Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Lining Up To Sue Toyota

Toyota headquarters
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The Web sites are already up and running.

The lawyers are salivating.

And the big question is how much will Toyota wind up paying in legal claims for the lawsuits it faces and will face as a result of its unintended acceleration problems?

Strange as it may sound, the damage may not be as great as you think.

The reason is because Toyota's greatest exposure will come in those cases where people died or were injured.

According to Safety Research and Strategies, the break down of incidents involving unintended acceleration shows the following:

  • Incidents: 2262
  • Crashes: 815
  • Injuries: 314
  • Deaths: 19

Those numbers will no doubt rise as more people come forward and file complaints or lawsuits about past accidents. Still, considering Toyota is recalling more than 7 million vehicles, roughly 3,500 known cases is very limited exposure.

Will this wind up costing Toyota tens of millions of dollar or even a few billion dollars?


What about the class action lawsuits lawyers are lining up around the country?

There are at least 40 filed at this point, and I bet we'll see even more before a judge finally consolidates many of them. They range from those that sound legitimate to those that are specious at first glance. As a lawyer friend of mine would say, "Somewhere there's a lawyer looking to cash in on the fact there are millions of people driving Toyota cars and trucks."

One class action suit plans to seek restitution for the drop in value of Toyota vehicles. The lawyer in charge tells me the company should pay people up to $800 per vehicle because the recall has dropped the residual value on Toyota models by at last that much. I don't think he'll get anywhere close to that amount, but he'll certainly file the papers and try.

Get down to the courthouse. The great Toyota lawsuit story is just getting started.


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