Toyota owners have been plagued by a series of car accidents in recent years due to unintended acceleration. As a result, Toyota has been hit with nearly 200 lawsuits, including some from Ohio, relating to injures and damages concerning various accidents linked to unintended acceleration. Toyota has revealed that it is likely to use the same defense that many auto companies have used in similar accident cases. That defense will be to blame the victim.
In the Paul Van Alfen case, a Utah-based case leading off the mass litigation, Toyota used black box evidence, alleging that the plaintiff never used the brake during his crash. “Any injuries to the Plaintiffs caused by the crash were caused in whole or in part by Paul Van Alfen’s actions,” claimed Toyota’s attorneys. Toyota further argued that there is a system in place in which the accelerations would have ceased if Van Alfen had installed the proper system and pressed the brake.
This line of argument is a reversal from admissions made by Toyota in 2009 and 2010 in which the company stated that mechanical problems with the gas pedals could have caused some of the accelerations.
The biggest drawback to relying on black box data is that the black box only records a few seconds of data prior to the crash. It is possible that the plaintiff did use the brakes and that the action was not recorded by the black box. Other data such as skid marks and eyewitness accounts are also needed to properly determine the cause of the accident.
Source: Huffington Post, “Toyota sudden acceleration lawsuit defense revealed: Blame the driver” Jan. 13, 2012