As a Davie product defect attorney, I have kept an eye on the Toyota recall. Last year, the automaker announced the largest recall in its history, of 4.3 million vehicles implicated in multiple reports of sudden and unintentional acceleration. In that recall, Toyota said improperly positioned floor mats were causing accelerator pedals to stick open, sometimes causing panicked drivers to launch into walls or over cliffs. The defect has caused at least 19 deaths, including the August death of an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer trained in vehicle safety and three members of his family. Now, the Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 23, Toyota is recalling 2.3 million more vehicles, saying a mechanical problem is causing the pedal to stick.
The new recall is raising eyebrows, the Times wrote, because Toyota had previously denied any problems other than the floor mat problem. The automaker didn’t explicitly say it no longer believed this, but most of the vehicles involved in the new recall are the same vehicles in the floor mat recall. Some safety experts quoted by the newspaper said they believe the real problem is actually Toyota’s “drive by wire” system, which controls acceleration through an onboard computer rather than mechanical parts. Toyota says the pedal can stick down when it gets worn. It doesn’t have a solution to the pedal problem yet, but has asked drivers who encounter the problem to apply the brakes and call a dealer immediately. Experts also suggest that drivers deal with unintended acceleration by turning off the car or shifting into neutral. Drivers can find more information from Toyota here and a list of vehicles involved in both recalls here.
According to the article, Toyota rejected the computer-bug theory when investigating an incident that led to the most recent recall. This recall is probably still good for drivers, but it disturbs me as a West Palm Beach defective product lawyer that Toyota didn’t investigate the idea that its drive-by-wire system could be the real culprit. In fact, it was basically forced to concede the pedal problem after a sudden-acceleration incident that seemed unrelated to floor mat problems. Mechanical parts are much cheaper to fix than computer systems — but if computers are the problem, that hardly matters. If the expert quoted in the newspaper is right, Toyota’s failure to face the problem will continue to put people at risk until it’s impossible for the automaker to ignore it — putting more lives in danger.
All manufacturers, including auto manufacturers, are legally obligated to offer their customers products that are safe and free of defects. When they fail to do so, they are legally liable for any injuries or deaths that result. At Cohn, Smith & Cohn, we’ve represented victims of serious product defects in Florida for more than 25 years. Our Weston defective product attorneys help clients recover compensation for their injuries, physical pain, emotional anguish and any wrongful death or permanent disability caused by a product they thought they could trust. Just as importantly, we also help recover compensation for all of the financial costs of serious injuries, including all lost income and future medical costs, even if those medical needs may last a lifetime.
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