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Toyota plans $1 billion payment to end recall investigation

New Yorkers may recall that the automaker Toyota has been under investigation by U.S. prosecutors to determine whether a vehicle recall was executed properly. Toyota-manufactured vehicles have been cited in about 400 claims for personal injury and wrongful death in connection with unintended acceleration.

The issue first garnered major attention when an off-duty law enforcement officer and his family were killed in an accident, and their 911 call revealed their efforts to stop the car. The automaker has consistently denied any cover-up or that the vehicles involved are defective. However, Toyota has recalled 10.2 million of its cars in the U.S. in connection with unintended acceleration.

Now, Toyota is preparing to pay the government $1.1 billion to resolve an ongoing investigation.

A civil wrongful death case in Oklahoma was settled by Toyota after a jury found in favor of the family. The auto giant paid a settlement before the jury could call for an award for punitive damages.

The aim of a wrongful death lawsuit is to prove that the defendant’s negligence led to the victim’s death. For example, negligence can be a driver’s operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a company’s failure to recall a defective or dangerous product, or a business owner’s failure to ensure that patrons are protected on the company’s premises.

For family members who have lost a loved one because of another party’s negligence, a wrongful death lawsuit may provide much-needed compensation for medical bills, funeral expenses and other costs resulting from the death.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Toyota Nears $1 Billion Deal to End Probe,” Charles Levinson and Christopher M. Matthews, Feb. 7, 2014