On Wednesday, Toyota Motor Corp. filed a proposed settlement in one of the class-action lawsuits involving unintended acceleration. In the settlement, Toyota agrees to pay more than $1.2 billion, including compensation to consumers who lost economic value on their vehicles because of the large recall. It also agrees to install new safety devices (including brake override systems) on 3.2 million of its cars.
The Toyota class action began after federal regulators received an abnormally large amount of complaints that the vehicles were accelerating on their own. Toyota recalled approximately eight million vehicles after it discovered problems with floor mats and pedals that caused some of the unintended acceleration.
Yet, in the settlement proposed by Toyota, the company does not claim responsibility and still maintains that driver error caused most of the unintended acceleration incidences.
While the settlement offer is large, by reducing blame, Toyota is doing what many large companies do: refusing to admit wrongdoing and opposing change. As we have said before, many companies will spend resources in order to maintain the status quo. For Toyota, the status quo is the reputation they have had for the safety of their vehicles. Ironically, fear of losing that reputation may have led the company to ignore laws put in place to protect consumer safety.
For example, just a few weeks ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fined the company $17.35 million (the largest fine of its kind) for delaying to report and start recall proceedings for the floor mats in the 2010 Lexus RX SUV.
Toyota's story, while well-known, is not the first of its kind and certainly not the last. Even now, it continues to face multiple other lawsuits, including suits from individuals injured by the auto defects. If you believe you have been injured by an auto defect, you may be able to hold the car manufacturer liable and recover compensation for your economic and noneconomic damages. Learn more by visiting our pages on auto defects.
Source: The New York Times, "Toyota Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Tied to Accelerations," Bill Vlasic, Dec. 26, 2012