Many Californians remember the Toyota recall that first began in 2009 after reports of sudden, unintended acceleration were received. Since then, more than 8 million vehicles have been recalled.
But the biggest concern for consumers was the danger that these recalled vehicles posed to drivers, passengers and other vehicles on the road. There were a number of reported accidents related to the sudden acceleration defect, including several fatal crashes. In response, several families of those killed in the accidents filed wrongful death lawsuits against the motor vehicle company.
Now, there are three lawsuits set for trial in California with Toyota named as the defendant. All three are to occur in 2013, two of which are wrongful death claims. These types of lawsuits can be brought against a party whose negligence resulted in the death of another.
One of the lawsuits headed for trial in 2013 addresses a fatal crash that occurred in 2010. A man was driving a Toyota Camry and was exiting the highway. The car suddenly accelerated and didn't stop even though the man tried to brake. The car slammed into a wall, killing the man and another passenger and injuring two more passengers.
While the lawsuits point a finger at a defective electronic throttle system in the company's vehicles, Toyota still maintains that there is no evidence of such a defect.
It will be at least a few years before the families of the victims are given any sort of closure. They may simply want Toyota held responsible for their actions. But this type of claim can also result in a settlement award for the victims and their families that can help with some of the expenses that resulted from the crash.
Source: Bloomberg Businessweek: "Toyota Judge Sets First Three Trials in Acceleration Suits," Bill Callahan and Margaret Cronin Fisk, Oct. 11, 2011
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