Many can recall the horror stories from around the country of the sudden, unexpected acceleration of Toyota vehicles that caused scores of deaths and injuries. Toyota Motor Corporation has recently settled the first in a group of hundreds of wrongful death and injury claims stemming from those incidents.
The first claim settled was brought by the family of Paul Van Alfen and Charlene Jones Lloyd who were killed after their Toyota Camry accelerated and slammed into a wall in Utah in 2010. Van Alfen was driving the vehicle on Interstate 80 in Wendover, Utah when it abruptly accelerated. The Camry then careened through an intersection at the bottom of the ramp and struck a wall, killing Van Alfen and Lloyd, and injuring two other passengers. The Utah Highway Patrol concluded that the gas pedal was stuck, which caused the sudden acceleration. The settlement amount has not been disclosed but a spokeswoman stated the remaining suits would not be affected by this settlement.
Toyota issued a statement stating that while they may decide to settle certain wrongful death and injury cases, they will also have the opportunity to defend themselves at trial. Toyota further stated that they stand by the safety of their products, which the company claims have been independently evaluated and confirmed as safe.
A wrongful death suit can be brought when a person is killed due to the negligence or wrongful acts of another party, such as a corporation like Toyota. The suit is usually brought by the victim’s immediate family, such as their spouse, children, or parents. The party will typically sue to obtain damages to cover expenses that are incurred as a result of the death, such as medical and funeral bills, as well as the loss of financial support the victim provided while alive. The goal of wrongful death suits is to provide relief for the financial losses suffered by the victim’s dependents.