Local family files lawsuit against Toyota

March 3, 2010 4:00:02 PM PST
You may have seen this coming. On Wednesday, we got an idea of the legal backlash that could be in store for Toyota due to its recalls. Toyota is facing an onslaught of lawsuits and Houston may play a role in the legal moves.

Toyota owners who had accidents that could be linked to sudden acceleration or those who simply are not happy with just getting a repair from the company are heading to law offices around the country. Here in Harris County, one law firm says it has hundreds of drivers looking to file lawsuits.

Natalie Pham says her daughter's 2008 Toyota experienced sudden acceleration that lead to an accident. She spoke to us with the help of her husband.

"My daughter severely injured all of her body," said Pham.

Attorneys representing the Pham's filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Toyota in Harris County civil court. Attorney Mark Lanier says the Pham case is not isolated.

"We've got at this point over 300 other clients that we are combing through in an effort to figure out where to file those cases we also have cases on file in California. We literally have lawyers working from New York to California to Houston," said Lanier.

Not all the cases involve accidents and Lanier is not saying how much money he'll seek in the Pham case.

However, our legal analyst believes the fallout from the recalls could cost Toyota a lot of money.

"Toyota is going to have to set aside billions and billions of dollars in order to compensate consumers, not only from just traffic accidents but everything from the value of the car to fender benders to people's emotional damages," said KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy.

As the lawsuits pile up, Androphy says Toyota drivers who feel they have a claim should ask a lawyer if they will handle the case through trial or refer it out.

"If the lawyer says I am probably going to refer it out, then you need to think about whether or not you want to go with that lawyer because you may end up some lawyer some day you never met and don't know , and you may never be happy with it," Androphy said.

He added if you have a case involving minor damage, going with a firm handling many cases may be the way to go, however if it was a serious accident, a firm that only represents you may be better for consumers.

The Transportation Department says it's looking into complaints from Toyota owners who say they're still having trouble with unintended acceleration, even after getting the fix for the recall.

Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say they're reaching out to consumers about those complaints specifically. They want to know for sure that new floor mats and gas pedals are enough to stop the problem. They're still looking into whether electrical problems are playing a role.


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