The U.S. government has had enough. Last week the Department of Justice leveraged a $1.2 billion settlement claim on Toyota for suppressing information from the public and failing to recall vehicles with a known safety flaw in a bid to save money. That safety flaw, a sudden acceleration problem, caused 37 deaths.
Toyota’s accelerator problem came to public attention in 2009 after a desperate call to 911 by afamily of four. They were traveling over 100 miles per hour down the highway after their accelerator pedal became stuck. Their car crashing was the last sound the 911 operator heard from them.
This case will set the standard by which automakers will be held accountable, which is unfortunate news for GM. The auto giant is now under the gun for a faulty ignition switch, something the company has known about for a decade and has led to at least 34 car crashes and 12 deaths.
Placing such a considerable penalty on Toyota is a message to other auto makers. They are being told to learn from Toyota’s mistake. To deceive consumers and put profits above their safety isn’t just wrong, it’s criminal.
The penalty was assessed as forfeited assets instead of a fine so that it will allow customers to seek compensation from the fund for any injuries they might have sustained due to Toyota’s negligence.
If you or a loved one have ever been injured due to the negligence of another, you should contact an attorney about your rights. MBC has handled many product liability cases, some against automobile manufacturers, such as receiving an $8.9 million verdict for a client against Ford when one of their roofs collapsed during a rollover.