The US Department of Transportation says that Toyota Motor Corporation
has consented to pay another $32.425 million in civil penalties—$16.050
million for one case and $16.375 for another—over its handling of
auto recalls. The government contends that the automaker did not comply
with the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act regarding the reporting
of auto safety defects to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
One investigation involved almost five million autos that were recalled because of accelerators could get entrapped in floor mats. This auto defect, which resulted in the recall of at least 4.9 million Lexus and Toyota autos, is one of the two known causes for the sudden intended acceleration that some people have experienced while riding in a Toyota or Lexus vehicle. The other cause, “sticking” accelerator pedals, resulted in an earlier agreement between the NHTSA and Toyota with the automaker paying another $16.375 million fine. In both cases, NHTSA believes that Toyota did not obey the law, which required that it report a known safety defect within five days.
People claiming to be the victims of Toyota sudden unintended acceleration have filed numerous auto products liability and wrongful death lawsuits against the automaker. If you believe that your injuries or your loved one’s death was caused by an auto defect, it is important that you explore your legal options.
The other latest investigation, which has resulted in a $16.050 million fine, involves a steering relay rod defect that led to the 2004 recall of a number of Toyota trucks in Japan. The concern was that the steering relay rods might break and crack, which could cause the loss of steering control. Although Toyota told NHTSA that a similar recall in the US was unnecessary, in 2005, the automaker recalled almost one million vehicles over the same issue.
The three fines add up to $48.8 million that Toyota has had to pay the US government in civil penalties this year for its handling of recalls involving major safety issues that have placed people’s lives at risk. Automakers must be held liable for negligence when their carelessness, negligence, or disregard of others safety causes serious personal injuries or wrongful death.
Toyota Motor Corp. Will Pay $32.425 Million in Civil Penalties as Result of Two Department of Transportation Investigations, NHTSA, December 20, 2010
Toyota to pay $32.4 million in extra fines, AP/Google, December 21, 2010
Related Web Resources:
Toyota Safety Issues, Product Liability Law Blog
Toyota Motor Corporation
US Department of Transportation
If you believe an auto defect caused your injuries or a loved one’s death, contact our Toyota sudden acceleration law firm today.