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Driver to sue Vauxhall over ‘unsafe’ handbrake

Driver seriously injured when Vectra rolled on him

After suffering multiple injuries when a Vauxhall Vectra Estate rolled onto him, one motorist is taking Vauxhall to court in a bid to get them to admit there was a fault with the handbrake on this model and compensate him for the injuries he sustained.

Vauxhall Vectra Estate

Phil from Notts hired a Vauxhall Vectra Estate in January 2006

Phil from Nottinghamshire hired a Vectra Estate from Hertz in January 2006 and parked it beside his BMW on his drive. He is adamant that he correctly applied the handbrake and that the car was secure before he got out. He went to start unloading the car via the rear and, as he started to open the tailgate, the car started to roll towards him down his one-in-seven driveway. 

The tailgate hit him in the chest and buckled, pinning him against the wall of his house, then the car continued to roll back breaking his ankle, damaging his leg and bruising his chest. He suffered cuts all over his face and head, and was covered in glass from the shattering rear screen, some of which embedded itself into his ears.

It took four agonising minutes for Phil to get himself free. Phil is 5’10 tall and well built; he believes that if the car had rolled on a smaller person or child, they could have been killed.

Four weeks after the incident Phil developed deep vein thrombosis as a result of having a plaster cast on his ankle. Even today, nearly four years on, Phil doesn’t feel fully healthy and feels the injuries he suffered, particularly those on his leg, will affect him for the rest of his life.

Spate of ‘roll-away’ accidents

Which? reported a spate of ‘roll-away’ accidents involving Vauxhall Vectras and Signums in July 2007, although Phil is the only person whose case has reached the Courts.

Vauxhall investigated the problem (in conjunction with VOSA) and in October 2007 issued 279,000 Vectra and Signum owners with warning stickers giving ‘Advice when parking’. Then, the following January, it recalled 250,000 manual transmission Vectras and Signums produced from 2002 to have a free handbrake modification.

Phil believes the company should admit that the handbrake on the car he hired had a fault, and that he should be compensated for the injuries he suffered.

A spokesman for Vauxhall said: ‘This case is going to court as there were personal injuries involved. Obviously as it’s in court, I can’t comment further.

‘You have all the details of the service action taken on the Vectra handbrake, Which? was kept informed with all the detail at every stage of our investigations up to the service action taking place. There is nothing to add to that information.’

With Phil and Vauxhall apparently as far apart as ever, Phil will be pursuing the case in court tomorrow.


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