Toyota and GM have both been in the news lately for concealing safety defects from the general public, resulting in numerous injuries and deaths. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., addressed the topic recently, calling it both “shameful” and a “blatant disregard” for the law.
The Justice Department ran a 4-year investigation of Toyota and found that the auto company had purposely concealed information about the defects in their cars, putting thousands of lives at risk. The defect in question caused sudden and unintended acceleration in several of its models. Recently, a $1.2 billion criminal penalty was imposed on Toyota—the largest penalty ever for a carmaker in the United States.
Toyota deliberately concealed problems related to floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals and made deceiving statements to consumers in an effort to protect its brand image. What is even more devastating for the families of those who were killed by Toyota’s defects is that Toyota knew of these defects as early as 2007, but failed to correct the problem.
Internal documents showed that Toyota employees were extremely proud of saving more than $100 million after convincing safety regulators that the defect reports in 2007 only involved a floor mat fix and not a sticky accelerator pedal. They then continued to hide evidence of the sticky accelerator pedal from regulators and lied to the general public regarding the dangers that still existed.
Sadly, Toyota is not the only carmaker under fire. General Motors is now the subject of a Justice Department investigation over its failure to recall cars with a defect they have known about for a decade. This defect involves a defective ignition switch that actually shuts off engines and disables the air bags at high speeds. It has since been linked to at least 12 deaths, although safety consumer experts warn that number could be much higher.
Hearings involving the 1.6 million GM vehicle recall and the Justice Department’s safety probe are set to begin in April.
GM is also facing a class action lawsuit alleging that the company hid evidence of its ignition problems in 2009 when it filed for bankruptcy. The Justice Department is also investigating whether GM committed bankruptcy fraud by hiding the ignition problems in 2009.
When a carmaker or other corporation cares more about its brand image and profit margin than the safety of their consumers, devastating injuries often occur. When this happens, you need an experienced car accident attorney on your side to hold the negligent and fraudulent corporations accountable for their actions.
The Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers at Kelley/Uustal have successfully litigated numerous defective auto parts cases for injured clients and families in Broward County and throughout South Florida. To learn more about your legal options, call our attorneys at (954) 522-6601 for a free consultation.