January 29, 2010

In some cases, Toyota drivers may have been involved in accidents caused or influenced by stuck accelerators. In light of the recently announced recall of certain models of Toyota vehicles for unintended acceleration, the Division of Insurance is issuing this consumer alert to drivers who may have received an at-fault determination as a result of the accident.

Expansion of At-Fault Accident Appeals

The Division will expand the appeal process for drivers of recalled Toyotas who have been penalized by an at-fault determination from their insurance company after the incident. Specifically, at-fault determination appeals will be allowed in the following circumstances:

Re-Hearings Based on Past Appeals New Appeals
Any driver that has received a Toyota recall notice and who was involved in an accident involving a recalled vehicle that resulted in an at-fault determination and who had a hearing before the Board of Appeals in which the insurer's determination was upheld, may file a request for a re-hearing.Any driver that has received a Toyota recall notice and who was involved in an accident involving a recalled vehicle that resulted in an at-fault determination, may file for an appeal before the Board of Appeals, if one has not been previously filed.

Appeals Must be Filed Within 60 Days

The request for re-hearing or new appeal must be filed within 60 days from the notice of the recall or from the date of this alert, whichever is later. A copy of the Recall Notice must accompany all requests for appeals and re-hearings.

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The appeal request must include the appropriate Surcharge Appeal Notice from the driver's insurance company. If the driver no longer has this notice, we urge him to contact his insurance company immediately to obtain a copy. The appeal request also must be accompanied by the requisite $50.00 filing fee if an appeal on this determination has not been previously filed. An additional filing fee is not required if the request is for a re-hearing.

Expanded Hearings Limited to Unintended Acceleration Issue

The driver will be required to demonstrate that the vehicle involved in the accident is one of the models and types recalled by Toyota and that the accident was related to the acceleration problem outlined in the recall notice. All hearing determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.

While the recent recall was issued by Toyota, it covers several Lexus models as well the Pontiac Vibe. Drivers must show that the accident in question involved a vehicle covered by the Toyota recall notice.

Contact the Division of Insurance with Questions or Complaints

If you have questions about these new rules or if you need assistance in filing for a re-hearing, contact the Division of Insurance by calling our consumer hotline - 617-521-7794 - or visit our website at www.mass.gov/doi.