Toyota Offers Settlement for Decline in Value Caused by Auto Defects
In late December, Toyota Motor Corp. agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle the economic loss class action lawsuit it faced for unintended acceleration. The damages are intended to cover the decline in vehicle value caused by the auto defect and the installation of additional safety features.
In 2009 and 2010, Toyota recalled more than 10 million vehicles after receiving claims that the vehicles were accelerating unexpectedly. Many incidents of sudden acceleration occurred when floor mats were caught under accelerator pedals. In others, the pedals themselves may have been defective.
Unfortunately, the recalls often came too late, months after Toyota knew of the potential problem.
In the $1.1 billion lawsuit — In re Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration, Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation — the plaintiffs claimed that Toyota's failure to disclose the defects reduced the value of the vehicles, causing Toyota owners to lose money.
The settlement includes an agreement that Toyota will resolve another lawsuit brought by the Orange County District Attorney that claims Toyota violated consumer protection laws. It does not, however, resolve the various individual lawsuits brought against Toyota for personal injury.
Across the board, Toyota continues to assert that it is not at fault for the unintended acceleration and instead points a finger back at drivers. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that Toyota, known in the past for its safety record, is currently facing another record fine from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for failing to timely report safety defects involving its Lexus RX SUV.
Auto Defect Cases
Toyota is not the first auto manufacturer to face defect litigation and it certainly won't be the last. The unintended acceleration case became known to the public because of the number of people it affected. Many more defect cases do not involve recalls of millions of vehicles, but affect families just as much.
For example, in one case handled by Greene, Broillet & Wheeler partner Christine Spagnoli, a Sacramento jury held Ford Motor Co. liable for a defect that caused tread separation on its Ford E350 15-passenger van, causing a rollover and significant injuries. The jury awarded victims of that crash $23 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages. Similar to Toyota's case, Ford knew about the defective tires, but failed to recall the vehicles or warn owners about the defects.
When an unknown auto defect causes an accident, companies can be held liable for injuries caused by the defect. Yet, it becomes a whole different story when companies know about a defect and fail to act, causing injuries and deaths.
Thankfully, we have a legal system that allows individuals and classes of individuals to take on large companies with the help of experienced vehicle defect lawyers.
If You Are Injured by an Auto Defect
Was your accident the result of an auto defect? Often, it is impossible to immediately know if human error, worn parts or an auto defect caused an accident. Yet, through accident investigation and with the help of modern technology, the cause can be discovered and the right parties held liable.
Common auto defects include:
- Roof crush in rollover accidents
- Seat belt failure
- Defective car seats
- Defective air bags
- Faulty fuel systems
- Defective tires
Whether you were injured in an accident caused by one of the above defects or another auto defect, you may be able to recover compensation through auto defect litigation. This includes compensation for damage to your car, medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other damages.