Toyota Ordered to Pay Highest Civil Fine to Date

The National Highway Safety Administration announced recently that Toyota Motor Corporation has agreed to pay $17.35 million in civil fines as a result of the auto giant’s failure to report a safety defect to the government in a timely manner. The fine is not only the maximum amount allowable under law but also represents the single highest civil penalty ever paid to NHTSA as a result of a recall.

The fine stems from defects found in the accelerator pedals of the 2010 Lexus RX 350s. NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation began to notice numerous reports of floor mat pedal entrapment in that specific model of Lexus back in early 2012. The NHTSA contacted Toyota about the issue in May of 2012. A month later, Toyota acknowledged that it was aware of a number of incidents wherein a driver’s foot became stuck on the pedal, causing unintended acceleration. Yet another month went by before Toyota finally announced that it would be recalling more than 150,000 Model Year 2010 Lexus RX 350s and Model Year 2010 RX 450hs in order to fix the floor pedal defect.

Federal rules require an automobile manufacturer to notify the NHTSA within five business days after becoming aware of a safety defect or within five days of determining that a vehicle is not in compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standards. In addition, an automobile manufacturer is required by law to issue an immediate recall. Toyota failed to notify NHTSA and failed to issue an immediate recall, according to allegations by the NHTSA. The most recent penalties follow in the wake of penalties totaling $48.8 million that the automaker paid back in 2010 after three separate investigations uncovered similar problems with accelerator pedals in other vehicles manufactured by Toyota. As part of the agreement with the NHTSA, Toyota has also agreed to make changes in its quality assurance process to prevent such problems in the future.

As the most recent Toyota fines illustrate, even the vast array of federal laws and safety regulations cannot always prevent defects from occurring during the manufacture of a vehicle. Sometimes, those defects cause serious, even fatal, injuries. If that happens, the victim, or the family of the victim, may be entitled to compensation from the manufacturer.

If you have been injured or lost a love done in a car accident due to a vehicle defect, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries or your loss. The Yakima Valley car accident attorneys at Mariano Morales Law can help you get through the legal process and make sure that the party responsible for your injuries or loss is held accountable. Contact the team today by calling (509) 853-2222 or by using our online contact form for your free initial consultation.