February 5, 2013

Toyota Pays Big to Settle Products Liability Lawsuit

by Levin & Perconti

Many will remember the Toyota Camry acceleration problem in 2010 that caused a total recall of many Toyota vehicles, and numerous traffic accidents. You may remember that the drivers of the Camry were unable to slow down or use their brakes while driving after their cars would unexpectedly accelerate. Now in 2013, Toyota has finally begun to pay for this defect, settling its first wrongful death lawsuit over the unintended acceleration issue. The Associated Press reports that this first settlement with Toyota involved the deaths of two persons who were killed in a Toyota Camry when it accelerated and could not be stopped. The family of the deceased brought the lawsuit after the drivers of the Camry were unable to stop and were killed when their car slammed into a wall in Utah.

This is the first of hundreds of lawsuits filed over fatalities and severe injuries associated with the Toyota unintended acceleration problem back in 2010. In December 2012, Toyota settled the class action lawsuit filed by Toyota owners who claimed that their car’s value was hurt by the acceleration problem; paying the injured owners $1.1 billion dollars. Toyota will be facing several other lawsuits in the future, as this is the first of many. In fact, Toyota’s next case is on the docket for May. However, in 2010, Toyota settled a $10 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit before the rest of the lawsuits were consolidated into one consolidated lawsuit in United States District Court.

When products that are designed to be safer, healthier for the environment and more convenient cause people to suffer significant personal injuries because of poor craftsmanship or a major design flaw, victims have the right to hold manufacturers accountable by way of a products liability lawsuit. The products that we use everyday should make our lives better, not make them more dangerous. While it is unreasonable to expect that all products will operate to perfection at all times, the consumer has a right to expect that the products that they operate, use or consume will not cause them harm. Manufacturers and producers have a responsibility to make products that are safe and reliable for human use and enjoyment. When they don’t live up to that basic standard of care, consumers have a right to fight back and to let manufacturers know that their negligence does not go unacknowledged. Lawsuits like these Toyota cases are important to keep manufacturers honest and preventing them from acting negligently. They also motivate manufacturers to create better quality products to avoid litigation.

Our firm is experienced in handling products liability cases. In fact, we recovered a $3 million dollar settlement against a car manufacturer that improperly designed the fuel delivery system, which caused a fuel-fed fire after a head-on collision that killed the vehicles occupants. Negligent and improper design is unacceptable, and attorneys like the ones at our firm continue to fight to keep manufacturers honest and responsible.