Starr Austen & Miller Investigating Toyota & General Motors Door Fires

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Mario Massillamany of the Indiana law firm of Starr, Austen & Miller, LLP, announced today that the firm is investigating potential products liability claims related to certain vehicles manufactured by Toyota and General Motors, both of which have had several complaints of door fires resulting from faulty power window switches in the driver’s side door, which may overheat and cause fires.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of Defects Investigation recently announced that it had upgraded its investigation of certain Toyota models to an engineering analysis, which is not yet a recall, but can precede one. Specifically, over 1.4 million cars and SUVs from the 2007-2009 model years, and which were built between September 2006 and August 2008 may be effected. The models involved include:

  • Camry
  • RAV4 SUVs
  • Yaris; and
  • Highlander Hybrid SUV

NHTSA has reported 161 window switch fire complaints received to it, or Toyota, nine of which have resulted in injury.

Similarly, NHTSA has also upgraded its investigation of fire problems in doors of 2006 and 2007 Chevrolet TrailBlazer SUVs, which are manufactured by General Motors, into a full engineering analysis. There are nearly 342,000 vehicles involved in this investigation, with NHTSA and GM receiving, combined, 242 complaints, including 28 fires, but no reports of injuries.

NHTSA is also investigating to see if this problem with the power window switches in the TrailBlazer may also be a problem with other models using the same part, including the Buick Rainer, GMC Envoy, Isuzu Ascender, and Saab 9-7X SUV.

At this time it is not currently believed that Toyota and GM’s possible product liability problems related to these power door switches are related, because the companies are believed to have received the switches from different parts suppliers according to Boston.com.

Despite the fact that the problems do not appear to be related, Scott Starr, a partner in the firm, has stated, “Malfunctioning power window switches that do not work properly, melt, or even cause fire hazards are not safe for the public and may constitute a defectively manufactured or designed product in violation of state and/or federal laws.” Further, he states, “It is unclear at this time whether these fires are being caused by a defect in manufacture, or if there is an unreasonably dangerous design. Either way, though, this is not the type of event which should be happening in any vehicle on the road.”

If your vehicle has caught on fire in the door in what you believe may be the result of a defective power window switch, or you have been injured because of such a fire, you may be able to seek legal recourse in the form of a product liability lawsuit. Starr Austen & Miller suggest talking to an experienced personal injury attorney who also has experience with automobile products liability who can help you understand your options.