Driving a car is pretty intuitive for most drivers. Hit the gas to go and hit the brakes to stop. However, what would happen if you took your foot off the gas but you continued to accelerate? For many shocked drivers, their vehicle's unintended acceleration caused them to lose control of the vehicle, leading to accidents and injuries. Millions of vehicles have since become subject to recalls to remedy the unintended acceleration defect.
Unintended Acceleration Causes
Unintended acceleration can be caused by a number of problems. It could involve a computer failure in a vehicle's electronic control unit (ECU). It could also be caused by a mechanical or design defect. In some cases, a physical obstruction of the brake or gas pedal can lead to unintended acceleration. Any of the situations can result in a deadly accident as a driver is unable to safely bring the car to a stop.
There have been many reports of unintended acceleration of the past decade, especially as cars come to rely more and more on computers and electronics. Advanced technology is supposed to make cars more efficient and safer. However, when there are design flaws or technical malfunctions, vehicle technology can turn an automobile into a deadly weapon.
Unintended Acceleration Recalls
A number of vehicles have been subject to a recall as the result of unintended acceleration concerns. Toyota and Lexus were subject to recalls because of an unintended acceleration problem that executives with the company were aware of. Toyota eventually settled a case with the government to pay $1.2 billion to avoid prosecution for unintended acceleration safety problems. Toyota admitted to misleading U.S. consumers by denying safety related issues which could cause unintended acceleration.
As far back as 2009, news reports started to question the car company about the problem. An ABC News report identified hundreds of customers who complained about accidents that drivers said were caused by unintended acceleration. Some people were even killed when accelerators became stuck on floor mats, causing the drivers to lose the ability to stop their cars, causing deadly accidents.
Toyota finally acknowledged the problem of unintended acceleration due to floor mat problems. However, other drivers were still experiencing the same problem totally unrelated to floor mats. After an investigation, additional problems were identified because of “sticky pedals.” Toyota was aware of the sticky pedal problem that could cause accelerators to get stuck; however, they did not communicate the problem to consumers. Only after the truth came out did Toyota issue a recall to fix the sticky pedals.
Accidents Caused by Unintended Acceleration
In the event of a car accelerating without the driver's ability to control the accelerator, applying the full power of the brakes can help slow the car down. In some cases, applying the brakes will be able to bring the car to a complete stop. Some vehicles have computer systems that will close the throttle when the brakes are applied. Other cars may be brought back into control by shifting the car into neutral or park. For manual cars, depressing the clutch may stop any continued acceleration.
When a driver is not able to stop the car in time, or if they are in heavy traffic, even short unintended acceleration can lead to an accident. One of the problems that many people encounter after an unintended acceleration is that no one believes them. For years, many of the people with the known safety problems that caused unintended acceleration were not believed by police officers, the car companies, the insurance companies, and anyone else involved in the accident.
After an accident caused by unintended acceleration, it is important to tell the police and your insurance company what happened. However, if your insurance company or the police do not believe you, you should consider contacting an attorney. Your lawyer will be able to investigate your claim, determine the cause of the unintended acceleration, and make sure you are compensated for your damages.
Unintended Acceleration Attorneys in Washington D.C.
If you or a loved one was injured due to unintended acceleration in a Toyota or other vehicle, it is important for the car company to take responsibility for their mistakes. Lawsuits involving vehicle defects, design defects, and malfunctions can be complex and more complicated than other vehicle accident lawsuits. At Gilman & Bedigian, our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience aggressively pursuing compensation for vehicle malfunction injury victims and their families. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury in a car accident in Maryland, please contact our law offices as soon as possible.