Prior Toyota Accident Claims Are Being Examined by Insurance Companies

Several major insurance companies say they may seek compensation from Toyota Motor Corp. for old accident claims where sudden acceleration problems with Toyota or Lexus vehicles may have been a factor. 

State Farm Insurance Cos., Allstate Corp, Geico and other major insurers say they may request that Toyota cover the cost of some of the accident claims dating back several years, which could allow them to reimburse drivers for deductibles paid in those cases. The move could cost Toyota millions, and comes as the company has agreed to pay a $16.4 million criminal fine for allegedly covering up the problem.

Insurers say they are going back through old accident files and finding incidents where drivers of vehicles that have been subject to a Toyota recall for sudden acceleration problems claimed that their vehicles sped out of control. Those accidents took place before insurers realized there was a defect in the vehicles.

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Toyota has recalled nearly 9 million vehicles since September 2009, with 8.5 million recalled due to complaints that they can accelerate out of control. The acceleration recalls were done in waves, starting with 4.2 million recalled for problems involving the floormats, and then later recalls indicated that there was a mechanical or electrical problem with the gas pedals.

When insurers discover that defective vehicle problems are a key factor in an accident, they can request that the auto maker reimburse them for the claim, a practice known as subrogation. If the insurance company is successful obtaining reimbursement, they would then reimburse their insureds for any deductibles that may have been paid in the claims. However, this will likely be limited to limited to minor accident claims for property damage, as major Toyota accidents involving a personal injury from a defective vehicle would likely require a lawsuit to obtain reimbursement.

The gas pedal problems have resulted in a number of Toyota consumer class action lawsuits, Toyota injury lawsuits and Toyota wrongful death lawsuits filed by family members of people allegedly killed when their vehicles accelerated out of control. Earlier this month a number of federal Toyota lawsuits were consolidated and centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) for pretrial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. U.S. District Judge James Selna has scheduled the first MDL conference for May 13. Some estimates place the number of overall lawsuits against Toyota in state and federal courts at about 200.

In addition to the lawsuits, the U.S. Department of Transportation fined the company $16.4 million, accusing the Japanese automaker of covering up the problem for months; an accusation supported by what the government says are internal documents showing the company knew about the problems but waited before alerting the government and consumers. The company announced today that it intends to pay the fine.


  • ikramAugust 28, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    due to unindrended acceleration of my corolla matrix i had an acident on 7.5.10.i am looking for a suitale lawyer to handli this.chaudhri

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