Last week, I wrote here about Toyota’s recall of millions of vehicles that may accelerate suddenly and without the driver’s intervention. This is a major story for drivers and auto dealers, but also for Missouri car wreck attorneys like me, because we may end up handling lawsuits related to the recall and its defect. Now, it looks like that prediction is already coming true. According to a Feb. 2 article from Reuters, Toyota faces at least 10 lawsuits filed since November of 2009, all of which allege that the automaker sold a defective product, failed to warn drivers about the problem or both. They all seek class-action status, which means they’d combine claims from all Toyota owners affected by the defect. Depending on the circumstances, this could include tens of millions of drivers in the United States alone.
Toyota has taken a beating in the press for handing the unintended acceleration problem poorly. It has issued two recalls, blaming the problem first on floor mats and then on accelerator pedals, sending mixed messages. Furthermore, evidence has emerged that the automaker had received at least 2,000 complaints over the past decade, and knew about the pedal problem nearly three years ago. Legal experts in the Reuters article said this could form the basis of a claim that Toyota failed to warn drivers about the problem in a timely manner, in addition to a possible claim about a design defect. If Toyota is found liable in this type of claim, they said, it could owe its customers billions of dollars because of the seriousness of the claims and the sheer number of affected vehicles.
Reuters reported that four of the claims alone were filed on Jan. 29, and given that at least 19 people have died because of unintended acceleration, more are almost certainly coming. As a St. Louis auto accident lawyer, I think it’s only a matter of time before we hear about claims filed locally. There’s evidence that, at the very least, Toyota was slow to respond to the problem. At worst, the automaker could face charges that it actively tried to cover up the problem by blaming it on easily fixed mechanical parts rather than its expensive and complicated computerized accelerator system. You may remember the movie Fight Club, in which a major automaker decided whether to recall products based on whether it would cost more to fix the problem or settle lawsuits from families of people who died. This was based on a real memo put out by Ford in 1968. If we find that Toyota used similar math to calculate the value of human lives, it could take such a beating in court that it may never recover financially.
Carey, Danis & Lowe represents victims of serious auto accidents caused by someone else’s negligence. That includes crashes caused by automakers who intentionally refused to solve serious safety problems or warn customers, as well as those who failed to take swift action for fear of harming profits. All manufacturers owe the public a legal duty to offer safe and defect-free products, or warn them about unavoidable safety problems. Our southern Illinois car crash attorneys have substantial experience litigating against manufacturers who have failed in that duty, including victories in legally and medically complex defective prescription drug and miniblinds cases. We are proud to say we’ve helped hundreds of clients recover money to help them get needed medical care, make ends meet and be 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, don’t hesitate to contact the Lowe Law Firm for help. To tell us your story and learn more, you can contact us through our Web site or call 1-877-678-3400 today.