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Toyota Recalls 803,000 Autos Over Air Bag Defect Deals with More Sudden Acceleration Claims

Toyota is recalling 803,000, Camry, Camry Hybrid, Venza, Avalon hybrid, and Avalon autos (2012, 2013) models) over concerns that the vehicles’ air bag and power steering could stop working. So far, no accidents have been reported related to the air bag defect but there have been two minor injuries.

According to the automaker, the air conditioning condenser might cause a short circuit by leaking onto the air bag control module. This could make the warning light to go off, disable the air bags, or lead them to deploy for no reason. Damage to the air bag control module might also render the power steering assist function inoperable, which could make it hard to steer the vehicle.

This has been an interesting month for Toyota, which was recently cleared by a jury in a California sudden acceleration case involving the 2009 death of a woman whose vehicle is believed to have sped up as she tried to stop her Camry from striking a tree and a telephone pole. Instead, a $10 million verdict was issued against the 86-year-old driver who did not halt at a stop sign and struck the car driven by the 66-year-old Noriko Uno.

Sudden Unintended Acceleration
However, the automakers legal troubles over sudden unintended acceleration are far from over, as hundreds of other people have filed such claims against the company.

In Oklahoma City, Jean Bookout is seeking auto products liability damages for injuries she says she sustained because she could not stop her Camry, which accelerated without warning, from crashing. Bookout, 76, was injured, and her passenger, Barbara Schwarz, was killed.

Her legal team believes that the auto should have been equipped with a brake override system. Toyota, however, says that her vehicle had any auto defects and that the accident was due to driver error.

This Toyota acceleration lawsuit is the first one to test a claim that a problem with the car’s electronic throttle-control system is what caused it to speed up without warning, disabling the driver’s ability to stop the out-of-control car. Auto defects attorneys claim that unintended acceleration incident reports went up after the automaker began installing an ETCS-i system in its vehicles. The system allows the throttle of the engine to be controlled electronically, rather than mechanically.

Signals from a sensor are supposed to detect how far the gas pedal is pressed. This information is supposed to go to a computer module that then closes and opens the throttle. Auto products liability lawyers, however, contend that external electronic signals can activate the throttle and the brakes are then unable to stop the vehicle as it surges.

Since 2009, the automaker has recalled millions of autos over this safety issue. Bookout’s 2005 Camry, however, was not part of the recall.Other causes blamed for this unintended acceleration in other Toyota injury lawsuits have included ill-fitting floor mats that make it hard for the driver to use the brake pedal correctly and sticky accelerators.

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