In late September, Toyota announced a recall of eight models spanning a six-year production period. The concern: that “unsecured” or “incompatible” driver’s side floor mats can slide over the gas pedal, causing it to become stuck in the open, accelerating position. However, some engineers familiar with Toyota’s acceleration systems, some plaintiffs’ attorneys, and many consumers across the country fear that the problem could be more serious. They say it’s likely that a defect in the electronic throttle control systems-known as “drive by wire” systems-of newer Toyotas, introduced in 2002, may be getting “stuck” in the open position, which causes the vehicle to accelerate even when the driver is not applying pressure to the gas pedal. Now, Toyota has recalled another 2.3 million vehicles because of concerns over stuck throttles, and accidents that were once chalked up to “driver error” may need to be reassessed for investigation of mechanical or electronic failure.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received over 100 reports of accidents that potentially “stuck” throttles in Toyotas. Lawsuits alleging unsafe throttle systems have already been filed against Toyota in California and Oklahoma. Persons injured due to unsafe vehicle conditions could obtain punitive damages if it can be shown that Toyota was aware of the unsafe accelerator condition and failed to warn drivers.
Some recent discoveries suggest that this might be the case: a former Toyota attorney says his attempts to preserve e-mails and other electronic evidence of safety concerns about Toyota vehicles were shot down by Toyota executives. A class-action case recently filed in California alleges that Toyota deliberately withheld important evidence from plaintiffs in injury cases and seeks recovery for all plaintiffs who lost or settled a claim with Toyota in a case where such evidence was withheld. The attorney who attempted to preserve emails and other documents was fired by Toyota.
If you have been involved in a suspicious Toyota accident, please don’t hesitate to call me or email me. I’m happy to discuss it with you. You can contact The Simon Law Firm, P.C.