At the end of December, Toyota Motor Corp. settled a suit over the loss of resale value Toyota owners have suffered because of recalls due to unintended and sudden accelerations. Though this suit, with a payout proposed at over $1 billion, covers economic loss for this particular problem, claims that these defects caused personal injury or wrongful death still remain. Claims of this nature are already scheduled for trial in 2013.

The claim was sparked by a tragic accident in 2009 in which a Toyota-built Lexus unintentionally accelerated to speeds over 120 mph. The vehicle then struck an SUV, went off an embankment, rolled, and caught fire. The car was owned by a California Highway Patrol Officer. He and three members of his family were killed in the accident. According to the investigation of the accident the cause of the crash was the floor mat, which trapped the accelerator because it was the incorrect size. Following this accident and the discovery of the cause, in 2009 and 2010 over 5 million vehicles were recalled due to ill-fitting floor mats and almost 3 million for accelerator pads that could stick. In addition, many lawsuit claims were filed listing unintended acceleration in several models, and brake defects with the Toyota Prius.

As part of the settlement, 3.2 million vehicles will be retrofitted with a brake override system that will apply the brake, even if the gas pedal is engaged. Sadly, by the time these vehicles will be retrofitted, many Toyota owners will have already suffered personal injury in auto accidents as a result of Toyota’s manufacturing.

In a recent National Highway Transportation Safety Administration notice, Toyota announced another recall for 150,000 2001-2004 Tacoma pickup trucks that could have a spare tire carrier rust problem that could cause an unintentional release of the spare tire onto the roadway. This is an extremely dangerous defect that could cause auto accidents to vehicles traveling behind the trucks. This problem stems from the fabrication process in which anti-corrosion materials may not have been properly applied.

While Toyota has committed to retrofitting some of its vehicles, many people have already been injured in Toyota auto accidents. Individuals who suffered personal injury in an auto accident caused by one of the problems for which Toyota issued a recall could be eligible to receive compensation for their pain and suffering.