As a Fort Lauderdale car crash attorney, I have followed reports on unintended acceleration in Toyota cars with great interest. Auto industry watchers may remember that Toyota had to recall millions of cars after a series of investigations showed certain Toyota vehicles were accelerating without a clear cause, causing serious and sometimes fatal crashes. The automaker blamed incorrect floor mats and later “sticky” gas pedals, but some believe the real problem is with the car’ electronic throttle systems, also known as “drive by wire,” and with the lack of an override. Toyota is fighting numerous lawsuits from individuals who claim they were hurt in unintended acceleration crashes. Now, the Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 3, insurance companies have piled on with lawsuits seeking to recover money they paid to insureds involved in sudden acceleration crashes.
Altogether, seven insurers filed lawsuits Dec. 30 in Los Angeles Superior Court. They say certain Toyota vehicles have defects causing unintended acceleration, causing at least 725 crashes among their customers. The companies claim Toyota should have included an override feature that stops acceleration when the brake and gas are pressed simultaneously. The claims follow a similar lawsuit filed three months ago by a lone insurer, Allstate. All of the insurer lawsuits seek reimbursement for the money they paid in insurance claims to drivers involved in such crashes. Toyota consistently denies that defects in electronic throttles have caused any crashes. Its recalls for unintended acceleration problems focused first on problems with floor mats blamed for trapping gas pedals, then on “sticking” gas pedals themselves. Federal investigators have blamed some, but not all, of the accidents on human error as well.
As a Miami Gardens auto accident lawyer, I think it’s a good thing for individuals that insurance companies are getting involved. Drivers and accident victims won’t benefit directly if the insurers’ claims succeed — but just the fact that the lawsuits were filed shows insurers believe the claim can succeed. That vote of confidence bodes well for the claims made by the individuals, which are mostly based on the same facts and legal theories. As the Times reported, federal records show Toyota discussed the possibility of an override system as early as 2007, two years before the first reports of unintended acceleration arrived. However, the company didn’t start installing the systems until 2010 — and the technology has existed since the early 1990s. That failure to act could be perceived by juries as placing financial concerns over safety.
Cohn, Smith & Cohn represents victims of auto accidents in Broward County and throughout Florida. In our experience as Miramar car wreck attorneys, most crashes are caused by bad driving and inattention — but sometimes, automakers produce cars or car parts with serious flaws. When that happens, not even the most careful driving can save drivers from deadly crashes. Just like all manufacturers, automakers like Toyota have a legal responsibility to make sure their products don’t have dangerous defects, or warn the public about safety risks. Failing to do this exposes any company to the risk of an automotive defect lawsuit.
If you believe you or someone in your family was seriously hurt because of a defective car or car part, you can call Cohn, Smith & Cohn today for a free, confidential case evaluation. To set up a meeting or learn more about us, contact us through the Internet or call (954) 431-8100 today.