In what is the first of hundreds of personal injury and wrongful death cases seeking damages from Toyota Motor Corp. over sudden unintended acceleration car crashes, the automaker has reached a settlement agreement with the loved ones of Paul Van Alfen and Charlene Jones Lloyd. Van Alfen’s wife and his son, who was Jones Lloyd’s fiancé, also suffered injuries when the Toyota Camry they all were riding in accelerated out of control and struck a wall.
Their wrongful death case is the bellwether lawsuit for the other Toyota sudden acceleration cases that are still pending and comes more than two years after the automaker settled for $10 million the California auto products liability case filed by the family of off-duty cop Mark Saylor, his wife, their teenaged daughter, and their brother-in-law when the 2009 Lexus ES350 they were in accelerated out of control and landed in a riverbed because the gas pedal got stuck in ill-fitting floor mats. Their deaths are what drew global attention to this dangerous safety defect, which has also been linked to sticky gas pedals. (A number of government probes since then, however, found that Toyota unintended acceleration isn’t caused by an electronics problem and that driver error has played a big role.)
Toyota has since recalled over 14 million autos related to sudden unintended acceleration and it has paid the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tens of millions of dollars for failing to notify the government about these safety issues sooner. Also, last month the automaker settled for $1.1 billion a class-action lawsuit filed by plaintiffs complaining that publicity surrounding this acceleration problem had caused the value of their Toyota vehicles to decline. Approximately 16 million Lexus, Toyota, and Scion owners are supposedly eligible to avail of this compensation. Many motorists may also qualify for related safety updates to their vehicles. Meantime, the car manufacturer has has just settled another bellwether case, this one involving the California lemon law.
In the wake of these recent settlements, some experts are speculating that the automaker is trying to resolve the more damaging cases to avoid more bad publicity and larger verdicts. That said, there are still over 300 sudden acceleration cases are awaiting their day in court.
Sudden Unintended Acceleration
This safety issue is so dangerous because when a vehicle accelerates suddenly and without warning and the driver is unable to slow or stop the auto, deadly collisions can happen. In addition to the people who are hurt because of physical injuries and deaths, there are those who have gone to jail because investigators blamed them for the crash without realizing there was actually a safety defect involved.
Proving liability when there is an auto defect involved can be tough, which is why you want to work with an auto products liability law firm that is experienced and knowledgeable about vehicle safety problems and the impact these dangers can have on the lives of victims.