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Toyota Under Fire From 7 More Insurers

Toyota has been the target of hundreds of civil cases since the auto manufacturer began to recall cars that were shipped with defective accelerators. Insurance companies have also begun to file suits against Toyota, claiming that they should be reimbursed for the thousands of dollars they have paid out from accidents caused by the recalled parts. Allstate car insurance company was the first to file a suit, but it has recently been joined by 7 other companies looking for reimbursement. According to car insurance companies involved in the lawsuits, a settlement against Toyota would benefit the insurance agencies and the customers who were impacted by the accidents.

Civil Cases Against Toyota on the Rise

Individuals who have suffered injuries or the deaths of loved ones due to the sudden acceleration of the defective Toyota cars have sought financial settlements since the auto maker first released the recall. Toyota's resistance toward cooperating with these individuals has led to a wider range of civil actions regarding the recall. The main complaint of most cases is that the car maker knew that there was a problem with the accelerator mechanism but did not do anything to warn the public about the potential dangers of driving these cars. Toyota is facing up to $10 billion in civil lawsuits at the moment and the number could continue to rise as the suits gain more public exposure.

Allstate Filed Initial Insurance Carrier Case

Allstate is seeking $3 million in losses from insurance claims filed by customers who were involved in accidents related to the defective accelerator. Allstate believes that Toyota should be held responsible for the expense incurred by insurance companies. They paid for the costs of the damage that was caused by Toyota's faulty equipment.

The auto maker argues that it has done everything in its power to protect consumers and should not be held liable for insurance payouts. The company has already been reported to have come to an agreement on a $10 million settlement with the family of a California police officer who was killed in an accident related to problems with the faulty accelerator. The recall efforts involve over 5 million American vehicles that were equipped with poorly designed floor mats that could easily push on the accelerator and cause the car to leap forward unexpectedly. Some of the recalled cars were also equipped with faulty accelerator mechanisms that caused the accelerator to become stuck in the forward position.

New List of Companies Filing Against Toyota

An extensive list of auto insurance companies have filed their own suits against Toyota over the matter. National Surety Corp., Motorists Mutual Insurance Company, Ameriprise Insurance Company, American Automobile Insurance Company, Firemen's Fund Insurance Company, IDS Property Casualty Insurance Company, and American Hardware Mutual Insurance Company are the latest insurers to join the fight against Toyota. The companies have filed three separate suits seeking reimbursement for claims related to the faulty accelerator.

The basis of the lawsuits is that the insurance companies believe Toyota was negligent in warning consumers of the possible problems with the accelerator. Once the accelerator problem began to surface, the insurance companies believe that Toyota was slow to respond to the issue. Dozens of accidents occurred due to the continued use of cars that could accelerate out of control without any warning. The insurance companies allege that Toyota tried to cover up the accelerator flaw and neglected to install automatic braking technology that could have reduced the danger of out of control vehicles. This negligence caused the insurance companies to pay out thousands of dollars that they would not have had to pay if consumers had been aware that there was a problem.

Multiple Claims Being Investigated

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is conducting research into 89 accidents that are believed to have been caused by the faulty Toyota accelerator. Each accident that is being investigated resulted in a fatality due to unexpected rapid acceleration of a Toyota or Lexus vehicle. The results of this research could directly impact the cases being brought by insurance companies throughout the United States. If the administration finds that Toyota is responsible for the fatalities, the company could face even steeper fines and settlements in the near future.

New Claims Seeking Smaller Payouts

The recent suits that were filed by these 7 insurance companies are asking for a much smaller payout than the Allstate suit. These new filings seek minimum damages of $188,000. Allstate's $3 million suit dwarfs the recent settlement numbers significantly. The smaller packages may be more successful in court, although they would set a precedent that could lead to more success for all of the other lawsuits that are pending.

Auto Maker's Response

Toyota has remained consistent in their response that they do not believe they should be held liable for repaying insurance companies for the claims related to the accelerator problem. The company believes that they have acted in good faith with their customers through extensive recall efforts designed to replace or repair any defective parts.

The auto maker also states that it will be difficult to prove that the accidents in question were caused by the faulty accelerator. Each person and insurance company filing against Toyota must present enough valid evidence that the accidents could only be the result of the recalled parts in order to hold Toyota liable for reimbursement. Since there are many elements involved in an auto accident, that burden of proof could be difficult in some cases. Attorneys for Toyota have complained that many of the cases do not specifically identify a particular mechanical part that is responsible for a collision.

The widespread nature of the recall means that dozens of insurance companies dealt with claims related to accidents that were caused by unintended acceleration due to faulty parts in Toyota cars. It is likely that the number of insurance companies filing claims against the auto maker will continue to rise over the next few years.