Fatal Toyota Camry Crash in Utah Blamed on Sticky Pedal

Another fatal crash involving a Toyota vehicles is being blamed on defective gas pedals. This time, said NPR, the crash involved a Toyota Camry in Utah and the culprit appears to be a sticky gas pedal, the same issue that led to a recall earlier this year.

In this case, the Camry, a 2008 model year car, crashed into a rock on November 5th, said NPR, the driver and passenger were killed in a car that has been involved in three recalls, including for an accelerator pedal known to get jammed in the acceleration position.

In addition to other issues, the fatal crash points to issues with how Toyota Motor Corp.’s resolves flaws in its vehicles, reported NPR. Of note, said NPR, safety advocates point out that the government is in receipt of a number of customer complaints concerning problems that are present even after repairs are made.

“To think that Toyota has solved the problem with these recalls, I think the complaints show something different,” said Sean Kane, founder of Safety Research & Strategies Inc., a Massachusetts-based firm that has studied Toyota’s recalls, quoted NPR.

Most recently, we wrote that the auto giant apparently purchased vehicles from drivers who reported that their cars were plagued with sudden acceleration issues and that Toyota neglected to advise federal regulators, wrote the Denver Post, citing court documents filed in litigation against Toyota. Plaintiffs’ lawyers contend the Japanese company more or less forced car owners to sign confidentiality agreements so that they would be unable to publicly discuss their vehicles’ issues in cases that go back to 2006, In those cases, technicians at Toyota experienced unintended acceleration—speeding without depressing the gas pedal—according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.

Now, lawsuits being filed against the automaker are on the rise, including at least one lawsuit initiated by an insurer. Allstate Insurance Co has sued Toyota Motor Corporation and is looking for over $3 million it and its affiliates paid in claims over accidents connected to the widely publicized unintended acceleration problem.

Despite its assertions of innocence, the beleaguered automaker recently just settled a lawsuit with the relatives of four family members who were killed in a horrific accident in San Diego that involved the deaths of four people whose out-of-control 2009 Lexus plummeted over an embankment and burst into flames.

Since last November, Toyota has recalled about many millions of vehicles worldwide over floor-mat interference and sticking pedal problems that may lead to incidents of unintended acceleration. Some vehicles are subject to all recalls.

According to Toyota spokesman, Brian Lyons, Toyota is working with the Utah Highway Patrol on the investigation but maintains it’s too soon to make an announcement concerning what caused the crash, said NPR.

In this accident in Utah, the skid marks left at the scent indicate that the driver, 66-year-old Paul Vanalfen, attempted to stop the Camry unsuccessfully. Vanalfen and his future daughter-in-law perished; his wife and son were injured, said NPR.

“Based on statements from witnesses and statements from those that survived the crash inside the car, [the investigator is] led to believe that the pedal was stuck,” Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Todd Johnson said, quoted NPR. The Camry’s brakes appeared to be in working order, he added.

Help filing claims and other legal assistance for the victims of defective Toyota and Lexus vehicles is available here.

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