While we all have an expectation that our cars will get us safely from one place to another, sometimes our cars do not provide the protection that we expect. Recently, Toyota has been under intense scrutiny after several instances of drivers experiencing sudden unintended acceleration inside some of the company’s vehicles. The sudden acceleration of Toyota vehicles has led to severe injuries and even deaths in some cases. Toyota has subsequently recalled millions of its cars and SUVs. If you have been injured as a result of vehicle’s sudden acceleration, you should speak with an experienced Tennessee Toyota accident attorney.
One of the first Toyota sudden acceleration cases to reach trial began last week in California. This particular case involved a 66-year-old woman whose car suddenly accelerated to a high rate of speed before a fatal collision. Known in the legal profession as a bellwether trial, this case is important because it will be a likely indicator as to whether Toyota should be held liable in other similar cases involving the sudden unintended acceleration of its vehicles.
Owner of a Toyota Camry, Noriko Uno was admittedly afraid of driving fast. She avoided taking the freeway whenever possible and drove the same route to work every day. When her vehicle suddenly accelerated to speeds up to 100 mph in a 30 mph zone, she tried everything that she could to slow the car down. She attempted stepping on the brake pedal and even pulling the emergency brake handle. However, she was unable to slow the car down before striking a telephone pole and a tree.
While the lawsuit on behalf of the Uno family includes products liability and negligence claims, the trial will likely focus on why Toyota did not have a breaking system to override the accelerator. Toyota has stated that the car had a “state-of-the-art” braking system and denied that any defect caused Uno’s death. Toyota has blamed other such crashes on accelerators becoming stuck, faulty floor mats trapping the gas pedal, as well as driver error. However, the attorney for the Uno family was confident that none of these factors were to blame. Witnesses claimed to have heard the engine roaring and reportedly saw the brake lights flashing indicating that she was unsuccessfully attempting to slow the speeding car down.
The attorney representing Uno’s son and husband stated, “Toyota decided to make safety an option instead of a standard on their vehicles. They decided to save a few bucks, and by doing so, it cost lives.” The Uno family is seeking general and punitive damages from the automaker.
While Toyota has settled some of the wrongful death cases outside of court, this case will be the first of approximately 80 similar cases filed in state courts across the country. Other suits have been filed in federal courts. Federal lawsuits allege that Toyota’s electronic throttle control system was defective causing the vehicles to accelerate.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a vehicle’s sudden unintended acceleration, we encourage you to contact a Tennessee Car Accident lawyer. Our team of attorneys would be happy to answer any of your questions.