Two of the largest automakers are making headlines again over safety issues involving their vehicles. Toyota Motor Corp. will pay $1.2 million to settle a criminal probe into safety issues related to sudden acceleration problems going back to 2007. The agreement also includes a deferred prosecution deal for the automaker for three years as long as it continues to stay in compliance and cooperates with federal authorities.
The settlement resolves the four-year investigation into why some of Toyota’s vehicles were accelerating suddenly and the driver was unable to slow down or halt the vehicles. Many sudden acceleration lawsuits against the automaker have yet to be resolved. Toyota, however, has recalled millions of autos over the matter, which is linked to deaths, serious injuries, and even prison sentences for motorists wrongly accused of negligent driving.
Prosecutors contend that Toyota’s statements about the recall were misleading because the manufacturer didn’t call back all the autos linked to the safety issue. Many of the sudden unintended acceleration accidents were caused by by ill-fitting floor mats and sticking gas pedals. According to US Attorney General Eric Holder, Toyota handled the sudden acceleration recalls as if it were a “simple public relations” problem rather than a “public safety emergency.”
The announcement about the settlement with Toyota comes just after federal prosecutors revealed that they were now conducting a criminal probe into General Motors over whether or not it properly disclosed problems involving a faulty ignition switch linked to 13 fatalities.
GM Auto Recalls
As our auto products liability law firm reported on this blog site, the automaker recalled 1.4 million vehicles in the US alone over this safety issue. Now, with news that GM knew about the safety problem as early as 2004—but didn’t announce any related recalls until last month—there is a very good chance it too could be forced to pay for civil and criminal violations.
Recently, a study linked another 303 fatalities involving the air bags in some of these recalled autos. This week, GM announced that it is recalling another 1.5 million autos, including GMC Acadias and Buick Enclaves (2008-2013 models), Saturn Outlooks (2008 – 2010 models), and Chevrolet Traverses (2009 to 2013 models). These cars come with a warning light that says “Service Air Bag.” Disregarding the light could allow the safety devices to fail to deploy in the event of a side impact car crash.
GM is also recalling 64,000 Cadillac XTS sedans (2003 and 204 models) over a problem involving brakes that may overheat. Two fires have been linked to this issue. Also, the automaker is recalling 303,000 GMC Savana and Chevrolet vans, usually used for commercial purposes, to improve the safety of passengers who may not be wearing seat belts in the event of a car crash.
Please contact our GM air bag injury lawyers or one of our other auto defects attorneys today if you think your car crash accident or that of a loved one may have been caused by a safety issue involving unsafe or faulty vehicle parts.