Seven Insurance Companies Sue Toyota Over Blamed On Sudden Acceleration

Legal troubles for Toyota continues, as a group of seven insurance companies has filed suit against the car maker, looking to recover money they paid out to policyholders involved in crashes allegedly caused by sudden unintended acceleration.

According to the suit, “certain of Toyota’s cars and trucks have a defect that causes sudden uncontrolled acceleration to speeds of up to 100 mph or more.”

From the Chicago Tribune:

The insurers cite data that blames 725 crashes on the problem and fault the Japanese automaker for failing to equip its cars with an override system that would cause a car to idle if the brake and gas were deployed simultaneously. They are seeking damages in excess of $230,000 from 14 crashes throughout the United States.

The insurance companies involved in the suit are American Automobile Insurance Co., Fireman’s Fund Insurance, National Surety Corp., Ameriprise Insurance, IDS Property Casualty Insurance, Motorists Mutual Insurance and American Hardware Mutual Insurance.

For its part, the car company calls shenanigans on the lawsuit:

Toyota believes that any allegation that a vehicle-based defect is the cause of unintended acceleration in this or any other complaint is completely unfounded and has no basis,

7 insurers sue Toyota in attempt to recover money paid to cover sudden-acceleration crashes [Chicago Tribune]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cameraman says:

    Darn you, Phil, that headline is- hey.

    Darn you, faux-Phil, that headline sense makes no.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      Yeah, I was about to say…

    • McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

      That is exactly was thinking

    • The cake is a lie! says:

      I think it should have read like this:

      Seven Insurance Companies Sue Toyota Over “Blamed On Sudden Acceleration”

      Actually, they should have dropped the ‘blamed on’ entirely and it would have been fine.

      This would have been acceptable for a Monday headline, but c’mon guys…. the hangovers surely have passed by now.

    • costanza007 says:

      Yeah I thought the same everyone mistake on headline wrong purple monkey dishwasher.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      After the whole tirade made about a mistake on a recent Phil article, and the ensuing arguments on whether or not Phil’s record is or is not just as bad as everyone else’s, everyone else is sure making the exact same mistakes.

      This is evidence that the Phil bashing is really unwarranted.

      • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

        dnn– stll thnk Phl hs th wrst rcrd f rrrs n hs rtcls. Jst bcs thrs mk mstks dsn’t mn h mks th sm nmbr r fwr.

        • tbax929 says:

          Poor Phil gets picked on even when it’s not his article. The guy constantly gets bashed by the commenters. I think everyone who is so offended by Phil’s writing should request a refund.

          IOW, nobody is forcing you to read Consumerist, so stop bitching about it. It’s getting really old.

      • Eyeheartpie says:

        M ss wth Phl s tht hs “rtcls” r sll crp whr ll h ds s pst n ml frm rdr, sll wth n vdnc nd n fct chckng, nd sks n bvsl bsd qstn n th wrng drctn. xmpl rtcl frm Phl: Ttl: Bst B rfss t ccpt vld rtrn rtcl txt: Qstn b Phl: Hv y vr hd cmpn d th wrng thng nd rfs t ccpt vld rtrn nd f s hw dd y dl wth t?

        • Eyeheartpie says:

          Darn you no edit feature.

          Article text should be: Email from reader with a story about Best Buy refusing to accept a return outside of the 30 day return window, or refusing to accept the return of an opened DVD.

      • Cameraman says:


        I was trying to point out that we tend to jump all over Phil’s errors, and we tend to give other errors a pass. It’s gotten to the point that I just assume an error on Consumerist is posted by Phil, and was trying to poke fun at that.

    • coren says:

      I accidentally the whole thing

  2. Sbb says:

    “Toyota believes that any allegation that a vehicle-based defect is the cause of unintended acceleration in this or any other complaint is completely unfounded and has no basis”

    …huh? Hadn’t we already established that that was a real thing, at least in a few isolated cases?

    • Not_Wearing_Pants says:

      Perhaps a few cases, but not the majority – the whole issue was not only blown out of proportion by the media, but jumped on by crappy drivers who had a built in excuse for running their Toyota into things.

      On a case by case basis, if forensics can prove there was a mechanical issue, then Toyota should remunerate the insurance companies.

      /Toyota pickup driver

    • Kitamura says:

      It’s the broiler plate reply to any lawsuit.

    • common_sense84 says:

      No, all we have established is that it is not real at all.

      There is only once case where a guy had a rental car and crashed it killing everyone. He crashed because he did not know how to turn off the push button ignition. And the car accelerated because the pedal was stuck on the floor mat.

      There have been zero cases of unintended acceleration(where the car actually accelerates for no reason) and only once case of a pedal getting stuck where the driver was too stupid to turn the car off.

      Most would not consider a stuck pedal on a floor mat ripped lose by the driver a manufacturer problem. As the customer ripped the floor mat loose and did not fix it. Then bunched it up under the pedal. Toyota’s recall fix was to zip tie floor mats down. That was it.

      This lawsuit is 100% frivolous. The insurance companies are banking on toyota paying out the 230k via a secret settlement rather than going to court. The only chance they will not get paid, is if toyota feels it is worth a court battle to prove their cars do not suffer from unintended acceleration. I highly doubt toyota will do this, because it is cheaper to pay out 230k.

  3. The cake is a lie! says:

    See, it is easy for these ambulance chaser insurance companies to cry foul on this, but the problem is that the problem wasn’t known to be a Toyota defect when they did their investigation. They likely have little or no evidence at all which would point out exactly what the problem was.

    The Toyota lawyers know exactly what caused the problem. Unless the insurance companies can show evidence which is exactly that, then they don’t have a case. Toyota can just sit back and let the dogs howl.

    You’ll notice the Farmer’s, Geicos, and All States aren’t involved. I’m sure they had far more accidents which could be blamed on Toyota than these little guys, but it is the little guys filing suit. Interesting… I’d say this is one of those cases which will cost the insurance companies a lot of money and everybody covered with them is about to see their premiums go up because of it.

    • Gramin says:

      The key to this lawsuit is the damages they’re seeking: $230,000. If Toyota can get a judge to drop this, then great. But they won’t risk it going to court. That will do more damage to their image and cost significantly more than paying such a small amount.

    • tbax929 says:

      What the hell is an “ambulance chaser insurance company”? Your comment makes absolutely no sense.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      If I had to guess, I’d say the reason the larger insurance companies aren’t listed is because their subrogation lawyers had enough clout/resources to reach undisclosed settlements with Toyota on their own.

      In the past year, State Farm, All State, and several other well known insurance companies sued Toyota. All of the lawsuits are either working their way through the courts or have been settled.

  4. EverCynicalTHX says:

    “Seven Insurance Companies Sue Toyota Over Blamed On Sudden Acceleration”

    Huh? Chris, is Phil proofing your work today? lol

  5. blinky says:

    Isn’t it kind of obvious that “sudden acceleration” is a crock, given that it’s disappeared?

  6. Alvis says:

    This picture of the ORLY asian guy – 74KB.

    SMALLER thumbnail on the main page – 140KB

  7. newname says:

    From what I’ve read, there is no support for any “sudden acceleration” defect other than the floor mats, which caused serious problems but not very frequently. Driver error and/or fraud is a more plausible explanation for the other incidents. This post illustrates the central problem, that the “trend” doesn’t make sense for a technical failure if you look at the data.

    The hypothetical “override system that would cause a car to idle if the brake and gas were deployed simultaneously” seems like a weird thing to bring up. If the driver pressed both pedals, that’s textbook driver error, and not Toyota’s fault. I might prefer a car that has this feature, but fundamentally the current system does what the driver says. If I press the brake and throttle, I’m telling the car to brake and throttle up, and it does. That it’s a bad idea is my responsibility, not the manufacturer’s. Using both pedals is also useful in performance driving.

    • bsh0544 says:

      The reason for the throttle lockout when the brake is depressed is for the case when the driver isn’t pressing the gas pedal but the throttle is opened anyways due to some error in the electronic throttle system. The lockout would allow the driver to stop the car safely rather than accelerating out of control and at best crashing the car. Even if in this case the electronic throttle system isn’t actually misbehaving (and I agree that skepticism is justified), it’s another layer of safety that doesn’t have a downside in normal driving.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        “Even if in this case the electronic throttle system isn’t actually misbehaving (and I agree that skepticism is justified), it’s another layer of safety that doesn’t have a downside in normal driving.”

        I believe that’s essentially what’s going on. An inherent downside of a drive-by-wire throttle is that a failed sensor or firmware error can lead to a WOT, where brakes can’t override the force at highway speeds, and (theoretically) shifting to neutral wouldn’t work because there’s no direct linkage between the transmission and the stick.

        I’m also very skeptical of many of the incidents but Toyota handled the situation so poorly, I really don’t trust them either. I suspect they’ll settle for some undisclosed amount of money, just like they did with the bigger insurance companies earlier this year.

  8. Ouze says:

    For $230,000, were I Toyota I’d have settled that within an hour whether it’s true or not.

    • Commenter24 says:

      This. Toyota’s attorneys will likely want a retainer in nearly that amount to even get started on the defense.

    • newname says:

      They may want to put up a serious defense to avoid encouraging other, larger suits. And settling could hurt their reputation, since even if they don’t technically admit doing anything wrong, writing the check is sometimes seen as an admission of guilt.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        But they’ve already settled or are currently facing lawsuits by much bigger insurance companies.

  9. DanKelley98 says:

    Fill needs a prooph reader

  10. common_sense84 says:

    These lawsuits are 100% frivolous, as only one case of unintended acceleration is even documented. And in that case the guy had no idea how to turn the push button start off, so he crashed. And this case is being blamed on the pedal being stuck under the floor mat.

    These insurance companies are only suing for 230k because they think the value is low enough that toyota will happily pay it out via a settlement. Which is most likely what will happen. The low value amount is the reason for this lawsuit.

    Hilariously, the fact that they only have 725 cars out of the millions on the road that had accidents mathematically proves there is no problem with these cars. As if there was a real problem, it would effect a lot more than 725 cars.

  11. TasteyCat says:

    Oh. This again? I thought people forgot about this a year ago.

  12. jimstoic says:

    The new Toyota commercial: “If you don’t drive it off the lot, it will drive itself!”

  13. cloudedknife says:

    I’ve yet to drive a car that “idles if the brake and gas are deployed simultaneously.”

    if such a feature is not standard industry practice I don’t see this going much of anywhere.