Toyota Sued for "Runaway" Damages

January 24, 2011

Allstate insurance, Fireman’s Fund, and six other automobile insurance companies have filed lawsuits against Toyota. The insurance companies are asking to be reimbursed for losses paid because of crashes caused by “runaway” Toyotas.

The insurers claim that there is a “product defect” in Toyota vehicles that causes sudden, unintended acceleration. When unintended acceleration occurs, the driver looses control. The brakes are unable to override the acceleration.

The lack of brake-override system in older model Toyotas is another product defect. Over 80% of its new vehicles now on sale are equipped with the “brake-override” control feature. Toyota intends to be the first carmaker to offer the safety technology in all of its models. The safety software is intended to ensure that, when the car experiences unintended acceleration, pressure on the break will cause the engine to reduce thrust and return to “idle” mode.

The victims of “runaway” Toyotas have filed numerous lawsuits for personal injuries and wrongful deaths. It is estimated that Toyota may be liable for more than $10 billion.

Reports of “runaway” Toyotas began in 2000. Toyota has always maintained that the unintended acceleration was due to driver error, improper floor mats, or sticky accelerator peddles. Toyota has always denied that there is an electronic flaw in its vehicles. Government studies have found no evidence of a glitch in Toyotas electronics.

In wrongful death and personal injury litigation, Toyota may well prevail on its claim that there is no glitch in its electronics. Toyota’s liability might rest on the absence of a fail-safe override system. A fail-safe override system was not introduced until 2010.

New Mexico personal injury lawyers can sue Toyota for damages cause by Toyota’s defective vehicles. Toyota’s liability for wrongful death and bodily injury damages will not make the plaintiffs “whole.” It will, however, lessen the burden of losses caused by a decade of “runaway” Toyotas.