Causes of car accidents are generally attributed to the driver of one or more vehicles involved in the crash. But as this story demonstrates, drivers are not always to blame for motor vehicle accidents. New York residents will remember the news stories a few years back regarding a number of fatal car accidents involving defective motor vehicles manufactured by Toyota Motor Corp. The vehicles were said to experience unintentional and sudden acceleration.
The first of what appear to be hundreds more wrongful death lawsuits has been settled by the families of two victims who were killed when the Toyota Camry they were in accelerated out of control and crashed into a wall. The accident happened in 2010 in Utah. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Although this is not the first wrongful death case against Toyota to be settled involving product defect liability issues, it is the first of many that were combined into the multi-district litigation case.
Prior to these cases being combined, a previous wrongful death suit was settled by Toyota in 2010 for $10 million. In that case, investigators said that a "wrong-sized" floor mat was to blame for trapping the accelerator and ultimately causing the crash that killed a law enforcement officer and three members of his family in 2009. According to reports, the vehicle reached speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour before the crash.
When a family loses a loved one in a car accident the grief can be overwhelming for the surviving family members. The sudden senseless loss can be difficult to understand and when the cause of the crash is determined it does not provide much comfort to the family. The families of the victims in the initial wrongful death lawsuit against Toyota may have saved countless other lives because it forced the company to recall millions of vehicles involving several different models.
With hundreds more wrongful death lawsuits still remaining, the company has stated it may decide to settle some of them and will most likely go to trial with some others. Nothing can replace the loss of a loved, no amount of money nor an apology from the party or parties responsible for the death, but in some cases, a little justice may provide some closure to the family members in knowing they may have helped others avoid a similar fate.
Source: MyFOX NY, "Toyota settles bellwether wrongful death lawsuit," Andrew Dalton, Jan. 17, 2013