Many injuries stemming from the use of motor vehicles are the result of some human error behind the wheel.
However in a growing number of cases, we are seeing product defects play a role too. From faulty airbags to sticky gas pedals to malfunctioning seat belts – there are many elements of a vehicle that must be in proper working order in order to prevent accidents and also minimize injuries in the event one does happen.
This is something an injury lawyer cannot overlook when analyzing what went wrong in an accident.
A recent class action lawsuit filed by a group of individuals who allege a vehicle defect with keyless ignition systems has resulted in 13 deaths and numerous other near-misses. However, unlike most product liability cases against motor vehicle companies, this issues didn’t involve collisions with other vehicles or fixed objects. They did, however, involve operation of the vehicle.
The class action has to do with an ignition feature that allows a vehicle to be started without a key in the ignition. In many newer vehicles, drivers simply press the “start” button, and so long as the electronic key fob is in their purse or pocket or somewhere in the vehicle, the car will start. The vehicle will not start if the key isn’t in the vehicle.
The problem – or defect – is that when a car is started, the system allows the vehicle to keep running even after the key fob is outside the vehicle. This has led to situations in which drivers have accidentally left their vehicles running in closed garages, after making the assumption that the car couldn’t continue to run if the key wasn’t in it. In fact, drivers have to push the “stop” button in order to turn off the vehicle.
When the vehicles were inadvertently left running in these spaces, it allowed for a carbon monoxide gas to seep into the attached homes. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, toxic gas that can be fatal in a fairly short time.
The biggest issues have been with cars with quiet-running engines. One example cited in the litigation is with hybrid, gas-electric vehicles. One of these with a keyless ignition is especially deceiving because the engine of the vehicle might not be running at all when the driver first steps out of the car. However, the engine would turn on itself once the battery power ran low.
Our Spartanburg car crash lawyers know that older models of the Chevrolet Volt were recalled by General Motors to address this issue, and newer models will shut off in a matter of minutes if the key fob isn’t detected in the car. In other models, the vehicle will sound an alert to let drivers know the vehicle is still running, even though the key fob is not inside. And still others have been manufactured to automatically shut off.
However, plaintiff lawyers in this action allege auto makers failed to make these changes retroactive to older models, meaning many cars still in use continue to be dangerous. A total of 10 motor vehicle manufacturers are named as defendants in the lawsuit. They have not yet responded to the litigation, nor have they responded to additional complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Cars’ keyless ignitions called ‘deadly’ in lawsuit, Aug. 26, 2015, By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNNMoney
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JAMA: Bicycle Injuries Double in Last 15 Years, Sept. 9, 2015, Spartanburg Injury Attorney Blog