Toyota Acceleration Problems Lead to Many Lawsuits

In late 2009 and early 2010, Japanese automaker Toyota issued recalls for several million vehicles because of stuck accelerator pedals.

These issues posed a lot of danger to owners of several of Toyota’s models. One case in particular where Toyota just settled a wrongful death suit for $10 million involved an off-duty police officer in southern California who was test driving a Lexus SUV with his family.

Shortly before this settlement, Toyota was fined over $32 million by the U.S. Department of Transportation for its initial response to the accelerator problems.

But lawsuits continue to mount on the automaker as several insurance companies have sued the automaker. Allstate was the first, seeking over $3 million for property damage for personal injury claims and fatalities it paid out for around 270 claims involving the vehicles in question.

Claims data shows around 725 accidents occurred involving Toyota and Lexus models affected under the recall. Insurance companies claim Toyota should have included an override system that put the vehicle in idle when both the brakes and accelerator are depressed at the same time.

Several other insurance companies filed suits on December 30th in Los Angeles totaling around $230,000 for the same things Allstate is suing the automaker over. These companies include the American Automobile Insurance Co., Ameriprise Insurance Co., American Hardware Mutual Insurance Co., Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co., IDS Property Casualty Insurance Co. Motorists Mutual Insurance Co., and National Surety Corp.

All told, approximately 400 personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against Toyota. All of these, including the insurance suits, have been consolidated under Judge James V. Selna of the U.S. District Court in central California, not too far from Toyota’s U.S. headquarters.

All of these personal injury lawsuits contain allegations that drivers and passengers either lost vehicle value or experienced injury or even death from this defect in Toyota vehicles.

Judge Selna has ruled he wants the initial cases to begin trial in early 2013. Pre-trial discovery is supposed to be finished by the end of next year.

We’ll keep you posted on any developments in these cases. It will likely be a very long time before this story comes to an end.

Until then, safe travels.