No doubt our Philadelphia readers remember the news headlines a few years back reporting that defects in some Toyota vehicles had lead to a number of fatal car accidents and subsequent wrongful death lawsuits. Well the first of those wrongful death suits has been settled and according to reports, there are hundreds more to follow. The defects in the Toyota vehicles had to do with the unintended sudden acceleration causing the driver of the vehicles to lose control and crash into whatever came into its path.
The first lawsuit to be settled in the matter involved two people who were killed in 2010 when the Toyota Camry they were travelling in crashed into a wall in Utah. The financial details of the settlement on behalf of the nine plaintiff’s listed in the suit will likely not be disclosed as it was settled out of court, as are many personal injury and wrongful death claims. Although this particular settlement will not affect the other wrongful death suits still pending, the settlement is likely to be used as a bellwether for damages in the remaining suits.
Toyota Motor Corp. issued a statement that said the company may decide to settle some of the remaining suits but it will also have the opportunity to defend its product at trial in some of the cases. Apparently there were reports of another case being settled by Toyota which was brought by a Los Angeles police officer and involved California’s vehicle lemon law. No further details regarding that settlement or the case itself were made available in this report.
A few years ago, Toyota settled a wrongful death case for a reported $10 million but that was before the current cases were consolidated into a multi-district litigation, or MDL in California. Philadelphia residents may also remember headlines a few weeks ago in which Toyota also settled hundreds of other product liability lawsuits that claimed vehicle owners suffered economic damages in lower vehicle values as a result of the publicity and product recalls involving specific Toyota models.
Toyota agreed to settle those cases for more than $1 billion. All of these cases demonstrate the importance of consumer protection laws when it comes to defective or poorly designed products, whether drugs or automobiles. Anyone injured in a car accident has a right to recover damages from the negligent party who caused the accident, and that includes vehicle manufacturers who take shortcuts and produce unsafe products that result in injury or death.
Source: MyFox Philadelphia, “Toyota settles bellwether wrongful death lawsuit,” Andrew Dalton, Jan. 17, 2013
Our Philadelphia law firm handles a wide range of personal injury claims, including car accidents, product liability and wrongful death cases.