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Toyota Faces Criminal Investigation Into Failure to Warn About Steering Rod Problem

By July 28, 2010July 10th, 2019Auto Accidents, Product Liability, Traffic Safety

The bad news just keeps coming for Toyota. According to the Washington Post, a federal grand jury has subpoenaed information from Toyota for an investigation into concerns about vehicle safety defects. As a Missouri car wreck attorney, I’ve been following the investigations into Toyota’s runaway acceleration problems. Now the focus has widened to include defects with steering relay rods. Just as with the sticky acceleration pedals, Toyota is facing accusations that it kept quiet about the steering relay rod problems rather than informing consumers. While Toyota undoubtedly doesn’t welcome these developments, it’s good that these problems are coming to light so that Toyota and other automakers can learn that there are consequences to putting public safety at risk by allowing defective vehicles on the roads.
Several Toyota trucks and SUVs — certain 1989 to 1998 4Runners, T100 pickups and Toyota pickups — are implicated in the faulty steering relay rods investigation. The defective steering relay rods, which connect the steering wheel to the wheels, reportedly break and leave the drivers without control of their vehicles, making this a very serious safety problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is apparently treating this as a criminal investigation. The investigation is looking into whether Toyota shrugged off complaints of steering relay rods breaking. Toyota had issued recalls first in only Japan, claiming that the problem would affect only Japanese drivers and not Americans because the tight maneuvering required in Japan would stress the steering mechanisms more. However, at least 15 crashes, 3 deaths, and 7 injuries have occurred in connection with the problem in the U.S., according to the NHTSA. Toyota issued a U.S. recall in 2005, but only a small number of the affected vehicles were fixed. In 2007, Michael Levi Stewart, an Idaho teenager, was killed after the steering relay rod snapped in his 1991 Toyota pickup, causing it to veer off the road and roll over.
As a St. Louis car crash lawyer, I hope that the NHTSA’s toughening stance on Toyota’s numerous recalls will deter other automakers from failing to warn consumers about safety issues in a timely manner. Accidents like Michael Levi Stewart’s leave families and communities with tremendous emotional losses, especially when they happen through no fault of the victim’s. Automakers do not have a right to withhold information about serious safety problems until they feel that the right time has come to disclose it. All manufacturers are legally required to tell the public about any unavoidable safety problems with their products. Automakers who place their company’s financial and public relations concerns ahead of public safety can be held responsible for any harm that their products do. Their failure to warn the public is a form of negligence, or carelessness, and victims should not and do not have to bear the consequences of the company’s negligence all on their own.

Southern Illinois auto accident attorneys like me help victims and their families learn about and defend their rights in situations involving defective automobiles. Pain and suffering, medical costs, lost past and future wages, damage to relationships, funeral costs, and damage to property are some of the expenses that victims can recover from negligent companies that have harmed them. Carey, Danis & Lowe has years of experience litigating against manufacturers who have harmed people by ignoring their duty to warn of safety problems. Hundreds of our clients have recovered the money they need for medical care, making ends meet and being fairly compensated after a catastrophic injury or wrongful death. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a car crash caused by defective cars or parts, let Carey, Danis & Lowe help. To tell us your story and learn more about us, you can send us a message online or call 1-877-678-3400 today.