A series of vehicle problems that took a toll on Toyota's reputation over the last year were a media staple for weeks. Certainly the most harrowing of the auto defects that were reported by Toyota owners was the unintended acceleration experienced in Corollas and other models.
Now news has emerged that the company purchased defective vehicles back from complaining customers in exchange for confidentiality agreements. The reports come from company documents revealed in auto defects litigation recently filed by multiple Toyota and Lexus owners in federal court in California. Plaintiffs also expose evidence that Toyota dealerships both witnessed and duplicated the sudden acceleration in various models over the past decade, but the corporation did not report the findings to regulators.
"The company knew it had a problem, but they didn't know the cause of the problem," the lead attorney for the vehicle owners told the Los Angeles Times. "They maintained their silence and tried to cover it up." The plaintiff's case references thousands of documents provided by the automaker to Congress earlier this year, including a list of over 5,000 complaints of acceleration problems compiled by Toyota since 2000. None of these involved Toyota's suggested explanations once the problem became headline news in 2010: sticking gas pedals and floor mat problems.
One example: a Toyota dealership's service manager informed the company about a Tacoma pickup that accelerated from 70 mph to 95 mph during a test drive, even though his foot was not touching the gas pedal. The internal document was submitted by the dealership to gain Toyota's authorization to repurchase the truck. Despite such apparent dangers, Toyota has been accused of never making an effort to inform at-risk customers or government regulators.
Trial Lawyers Protect the Rights of Injury Victims
Even in the clearest cases of automobile manufacturing defects, the federal bureaucracy that protects American consumers can be slow to react and often ineffective. People who suffer serious injuries or families who lose loved ones in fatal accidents have their own legal option: pursuing a civil claim to hold a company accountable for its negligence.
Vehicles that are prone to rollover, faulty braking systems, exploding tires and a host of other auto defects are familiar news to consumers. When defective parts or unreliable systems lead to a severe crash or vehicle fire, the human consequences can be devastating. By representing victims of these tragedies, personal injury attorneys enhance future highway safety by making corporations face up to their obligations, making our roadways safer for all of us.