The NHTSA has said that it will begin examining documents to see when the Toyota first found about the safety problem that has seriously eroded its credibility, damaged its reputation and has had product liability lawyers in Atlanta and around the country, criticizing the manner in which the automaker has handled the issue.If the new NHTSA probe does indeed reveal that Toyota was aware of auto defects contributing to unintended acceleration in its vehicles much before it announced a recall, then the company will be in more trouble than previously thought.
The agency will also look at how quickly Toyota acted to begin a recall after it found out about the problem.If the NHTSA finds that the company delayed informing federal regulators or failed to initiate an immediate recall, it could be fined penalties of up to $16.4 million. The NHTSA requires that any automaker that finds defects in its vehicles reports these to federal regulators within 5 days of finding a defect. The company must also act quickly to initiate a recall.
Toyota already had its credibility tarnished last year when one of its former lawyers alleged that the company concealed important documents during several of its product liability lawsuit proceedings.While those revelations had shocked Atlanta car accident lawyers then, they have taken on a new meaning in the light of the new unintended acceleration episodes that have emerged. If the NHTSA probe shows that the company delayed a recall, it will boost the credibility of the lawsuits that are beginning to stack up. It will also stress what trial lawyers in Atlanta have maintained all long – that in the face of the failure of the NHTSA, it falls on us to hold Toyota responsible for its failings.