Looking Back at Toyota Recall: Product Liability Explained

Policy makers have expressed doubt multiple times this year about whether enough is being done to protect the millions of drivers on the road. The recent Toyota recall of a multitude of cars with defective parts is a clear illustration of product liability and the measures to which a manufacturer is liable for problems with their items.

Representative Darrell Issa of California, the leading Republican on the Committee, complained during the hearings held regarding the automobile issues that Toyota knew about sticking gas pedal problems and improperly placed floor mats for years and delayed addressing the problems on cars sold outside of Japan.

Although the exact cause of the safety lapses is undetermined at this point, politicians have their own theories, as expressed at back-to-back congressional hearings just a few days. Business Week, for example, reports that John Mica, a Republican Congressmen from Florida, believes Toyota saved millions of dollars in 2007 by knowingly delaying a recall over unintended acceleration matters.

Despite the Department of Transportation and Toyota are taking steps to ensure those driving recalled vehicles get the problems corrected, accidents have undoubtedly occurred as a result of faulty car parts. Some of the blame may fall on the National High Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”). The Shreveport Times reported that Democratic Representative Edolphus Towns of New York noted that the NHTSA

“failed to follow through aggressively on thousands of complaints dating back a decade about sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles.”

Although it is no excuse for car accidents, if drivers are injured, they have legal redress.

In Louisiana the party at fault for an accident is responsible for all damages. This includes the cost of current and future medical care for anyone injured, property damage, compensation for lost wages, or even compensation for pain and suffering. If someone has died in an accident, their survivors may pursue a wrongful death claim against the party at fault. Wrongful death damages that may be collected depend on the relationship between the person who has been killed and the person bringing the claim. For example, a parent who loses a child may recover for loss of companionship or a spouse may recover for future lost wages.

If a Toyota driver is in an accident while driving a recalled vehicle, the case becomes one of products liability. Product manufacturers, retailers, or anyone else who has come in contact with a product may be liable if the product malfunctions and the malfunction causes an injury. There are typically three types of products liability cases: manufacturing defect, design defect, and failure to warn. Manufacturing defects occur during the manufacturing process and typically involve poor materials or workmanship. Design defects occur when the product design is inherently dangerous. Failure to warn problems involve products that have inherent, non-obvious dangers. Products liability issues are very complicated and require extensive research to prove each element of liability.

If you feel that you have been injured while driving a recalled Toyota vehicle or have been injured in any auto accident that was not your fault it is imperative that you have an attorney experienced in the intricacies of accident injury law. Please call the Berniard Law Firm Toll-Free at 1-866-574-8005.