Toyota won its first three cases in the class-action lawsuit brought by vehicle owners who were injured or died in serious accidents when their vehicle escaped control. Then, a verdict in Oklahoma took the wind out of its sails.
In an attempt to manage the sheer number of cases brought against it, Toyota has agreed to pay a $1.6 billion settlement.
Even though Toyota has offered a settlement, hundreds of cases, both wrongful death lawsuits and personal injury cases, are still pending. Most of these legal battles have been consolidated in California courts. However, with the decision to proceed to a settlement, litigation is suspended. In January, a hearing began in the United States District Court for the Central District of California in Santa Ana, California. Settlement conferences began in February.
Since 2009, the automaker has recalled over 11 million Lexus and Toyota vehicles for stuck accelerators and other issues. The large scale of the recall and the number of people injured or dead as a result of company negligence prompted Toyota to offer the settlement following its Oklahoma loss. If the company pursued its court battles, it would need to prove that a vehicle defect did not cause sudden acceleration in each. That would prove difficult, as the installation of Toyota’s ETCS-I system, which controlled the engine throttle electronically (not manually) caused a staggering number of accidents.
If you have been involved in a situation like this one, speak to a personal injury attorney about your rights. A major auto manufacturer may be involved, but that does not mean you cannot win a verdict in your favor.