Toyota recently stipulated to one of the largest settlements in U.S. history involving automobile defects, by agreeing to pay more than $1 billion dollars as a result of acceleration problems in some of its models. This settlement class does not include claims for personal injury or wrongful death and only focuses on the economic losses suffered by Toyota owners because of the sudden acceleration issues.
$250 million has been set aside to reimburse certain customers who sold their vehicles or turned in leased vehicles because of the faulty accelerators. Another $250 million is being used to provide supplemental warranties on some vehicle components. Toyota will also add brake override systems to roughly 3.2 million vehicles. Additional settlement funds will be used to pay for research and education into improved driver education and innovative safety technologies.
Toyota recalled more than 14 million vehicles worldwide after problems with accelerators were first reported in 2009. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and NASA could not find any defects in Toyota’s source code and Toyota has argued that driver error and faulty floor mats have been responsible for the issues with the accelerators. Regardless, Toyota agreed to the settlement as prolonged litigation was not in the best interests of the company or its customers. This settlement only covers economic damages and a trial is scheduled for February on Toyota’s liability for injuries and death allegedly caused by the sudden acceleration problems.