• Kyodo

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The family of a woman killed by a tire that came off a semitractor trailer in Yokohama in January 2002 has reached a negotiated settlement with the driver of the vehicle, sources close to the case said Saturday.

The driver agreed to pay around 70 million yen to the husband of Shiho Okamoto, 29, and their two children, who filed a civil suit with the Yokohama District Court in September last year seeking 73.5 million yen in damages.

The children also sustained injuries in the accident.

The driver, 57, has refused to acknowledge any negligence that may have been the cause of the fatal accident and plans to seek compensation from Mitsubishi Motors Corp., the vehicle’s manufacturer, the sources said.

The driver, who has not been identified, has reportedly reached the settlement in line with provisions of the automobile accident compensation law and with a view to ensuring financial security for the victim’s family, they said.

The provisions of the law require a driver to pay compensation in accidents, except those that are deemed unavoidable.

On Friday, police searched the head office of Mitsubishi Motors, owned 36.97 percent by the DaimlerChrysler AG group.

Police suspect the automaker’s executives failed to take appropriate remedial measures after a series of reports of similar tire detachments before the fatal accident.

The driver is planning to seek compensation from the automaker if it is found guilty of negligence.

Okamoto’s mother filed a separate civil suit in March, seeking around 5.5 million yen in damages from the automaker, the state and the driver.

Mitsubishi Motors has countered that the accident occurred because the driver had failed to maintain the vehicle properly.

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