Toyota Pays $10 Million To Settle Tragic Unintended Acceleration Case

Toyota Motor Corporation agreed to pay $10 million to the family of a California state trooper and his three relatives to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit against the company. The crash was one of the first widely-publicized accidents involving sticking floor mats and unintended acceleration with the vehicles, prompting a series of recalls.

Tragic Unintended Acceleration Accident

California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor was driving a Lexus ES 350 sedan loaned to him by Bob Barker Lexus when the car suddenly and uncontrollably accelerated. According to the lawsuit, Saylor was off-duty on a family outing with his wife, their 13-year-old daughter and his brother-in-law when the car unexpectedly accelerated and sped out of control. Saylor applied the brakes but nothing could stop the car.

The car reached 120 mph before hitting another vehicle, smashing through a fence, hitting a berm and flying through the air. It rolled several times and burst into flames on a field in San Diego County. Saylor’s brother-in-law, Christopher Lastrella, called 911 from the back seat and told the operator that the accelerator was stuck and the brakes were not working.

San Diego County Sheriff’s investigators concluded that the crash was likely caused by a floor mat improperly used in the vehicle. An all-weather rubber floor mat designed for an SUV was placed in the sedan by Bob Barker Lexus, which had loaned the car to Saylor. The accident report also stated that other possible sources of unintended acceleration, such as mechanical or electrical problems, could not be investigated because of the vehicle’s extensive damage.

Lawsuits Prompt Policy Change

The crash captured the attention of the media as well as the federal government, and it lead to the recall of over 6.5 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles. The San Diego wrongful-death lawsuit was part of a series of wrongful-death and product-liability lawsuits filed against Toyota Motor Corporation and its subsidiaries, prompting policy change within the company on its response to potential defects.

Producers are required to design and manufacture their products to be safe. In general, if someone dies as a result of another person’s negligence or a company’s defective product, the victim’s family members may sue the at-fault party in a wrongful-death lawsuit. Product-liability issues arise in a wrongful-death lawsuit if it is alleged that the victim died because of some defect in a product, such as cars that accelerate uncontrollably.

If a loved one has been hurt or killed while using a potentially-defective product, promptly contact an attorney experienced in product liability and wrongful death cases to discuss your legal options.

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