Toyota Motor Company and the families of four individuals killed in an August 2009 car accident recently agreed to a $10 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit. The case was thought to be one of the strongest against the automaker and was, at least in part, the cause of many of the numerous Toyota-related auto recalls over the last two years.
The subject of the lawsuit was a fatal auto accident that occurred on a San Diego freeway in August of last year. The crash took the lives of four individuals, including an off-duty CHP officer driving the car, his wife and daughter, and the driver's brother-in-law.
At the time of the accident, the victims were riding in a Lexus vehicle, a brand made by Toyota. Investigators concluded the car accident was caused by a floor mat that trapped the car's accelerator to the floor causing it to reach speeds of more than 120 mph before crashing. The car reportedly struck another vehicle before hitting an embankment, rolling, and the bursting into flames.
Toyota denied any liability and had attempted to keep the settlement confidential, but the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press had argued to the court that the public's interest in the case weighed in favor of making it public. The judge agreed with the media outlets, but gave the victim's families an opportunity to appeal his ruling. When the family did not appeal, the settlement amount become public.
This is just the first of what is likely to be many lawsuits involving Toyota's alleged product defects and safety issues. If you have been involved in an accident or where somehow injured in connection to a product defect, you may want to speak to an attorney to make sure you file a claim in time to protect your right to compensation.
Source: The New York Times, Toyota to Pay $10 Million in Crash Suit, The Associated Press, 12/24/10