Fatal Toyota Sudden Acceleration Cases Raise National Concerns

In early September, a veteran of the California Highway Patrol was provided a loaner vehicle from a Lexus dealer while his car was being serviced. After leaving the dealership, this 19-year law enforcement officer, whose job included safety inspections, was faced with a tragic situation. The vehicle he was driving suddenly and unexpectedly began to accelerate out of control. It appears from the investigation conducted to date that the officer was unable to stop the vehicle. Witnesses stated that the car was traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour when it crashed. Prior to the collision, one of the passengers inside the vehicle had called 911 to report a stuck accelerator on the vehicle. Regrettably, not only was the officer killed but also three members of his family.
Last week, perhaps in response to this fatal collision, Toyota announced the biggest recall in its history. It now appears that federal investigators are looking into over 100 accidents allegedly caused by stuck gas pedals on Toyota vehicles. According to news accounts, there are four possible reasons for these sudden unintended accelerations of Toyota vehicles: 1) the floor mats are too long and/or too thick; 2) the mats are not properly secured on the floor; 3) the gas pedal design is flawed; or 4) the floor’s geometry is defective in and of itself. Poorly designed floor mats have been suspected to be the problem for some time. Last week the Japanese automaker issued a safety advisory urging Toyota owners of over 3.8 million cars and trucks to remove driver side mats from their vehicles. Obviously, the Company is concerned that its customers could be placed in a similar situation as was the family of this highway patrol officer who lost their lives due to unintended sudden acceleration.
Toyota’s warning affects various models from 2006 to 2010. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has apparently received reports of 102 incidents in which the accelerator may have become stuck on Toyota manufactured vehicles. This sudden acceleration problem has resulted in 13 crashes, 17 injuries and at least 5 fatalities. (It is not known whether the NHTSA statistics which were publicly reported included the 4 reported deaths which recently occurred in California.)
If you, a member of your family or any friend have been in a Toyota vehicle and have suffered serious personal injuries from a stuck accelerator, you may have a claim under Georgia’s product liability laws. Georgia has long recognized civil liability for defective products which includes claims for defective design. You may call our toll free number at 1-800-228-9159 for a free consultation if you think you have such a claim.

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