Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Car buyers suing Volkswagen over its “clean diesel” deception just got an important ally in their fight - the U.S. government. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen Group in Federal District Court in California, alleging the company falsely advertised that it was selling “clean diesel” vehicles, when in fact, the cars emitted a lot of pollution, but were rigged with software designed to fool emissions testers.
The FTC’s lawsuit was filed in the same court as one of the main consumer lawsuits against VW, which could push the company to settle all of their civil legal issues in one fell swoop.
Read more . . .
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
What is the hidden safety defect endangering our children?
For many years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has advised the public to keep children in the back seat of the car to protect them in the event of an accident. Tragically, for the family of Jesse Rivera, Jr. of Texas, following this advice resulted in severe injuries that changed the course of his life. When his family's Audi sedan was rear-ended, Jesse was sitting in the back seat, behind his father. Upon impact, the driver's seat broke, launching Jesse, Sr.
Read more . . .
Saturday, March 19, 2016
The year 2015 was a historic one in terms of the number of automobiles recalled both domestically and worldwide. From General Motors to Ford to Volkswagen, automakers across the globe issued consistent recalls of vehicles for matters ranging from simple mechanical glitches to defective airbags and ignition systems. Nonetheless, thousands of drivers experienced serious accidents and injuries – and some fatalities – due to the unsafe manufacturing and/or design of their vehicles, resulting in thousands of personal injury, product liability and wrongful death lawsuits.
Despite the widespread dissemination of warnings, along with constant media attention over the matters, many believe that a high number of drivers are either unaware of the safety recalls, or have chosen to ignore the notifications from the dealership offering free repairs for the issues.
According to a recent report conducted by Carfax, as many as one out of every five vehicles in America is under an active safety recall – a number as high as 47 million total vehicles. The number of active recalled vehicles has risen 27 percent over the past year, and the “family-oriented minivan” is the biggest culprit with one out of every 4.6 under a recall notice.
Aside from the minivan, SUV’s rank second in the number of active automobiles under recall, followed closely by pick-up trucks. As well, Carfax compiled a list of states with the highest number of unfixed vehicles, which are (in order):
- West Virginia
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates a whopping 51 million vehicles were recalled due to safety concerns in the past year. In order to encourage drivers to seek free repairs to their vehicles, it has launched the “Safe Cars Save Lives” campaign, which includes a website service wherein drivers can check their vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to determine if an active safety recall is in place.
If you are having a difficult time with your new vehicle and would like to discuss your options under Pennsylvania or New Jersey lemon laws, contact a lemon law attorney.
Saturday, February 27, 2016
As we previously reported European automobile manufacturer Volkswagen has been under scrutiny after it acknowledged that it altered the emissions systems in its vehicles so that the cars would pass emissions standards tests. In so doing, the company concealed that its diesel models emit nitrogen oxide in extremely high levels. They were able to get the vehicles to pass by installing software "defeat devices" in 11 million vehicles worldwide that triggered altered emissions rates when vehicles were being inspected.
Despite the companies acknowledgement and agreement to fix the problem, the auto-maker is facing class-action lawsuits in a U.S. District Court in California. The suits claim Volkswagen engaged in "widespread fraud" by rigging the emissions systems and then marketing the vehicles in the U.S. The company allegedly violated federal laws designed to fight racketeering.
The class actions have been filed on behalf of over 500,000 owners and dealers in the U.S., and this will only add to the manufacturer's woes. The suits have yet to be approved for class action, but it seems likely the cases will proceed which will become a lengthy and costly problem for VW. In addition, the company may be forced to pony-up regulatory fines to the tune of $46 billion in the U.S. It has also recently been reported that part of that regulatory enforcement will require the manufacturer to begin producing electric powered vehicles in the U.S. Finally, the company is under criminal investigation in Germany and elsewhere in the European Union.
A spokesman for Volkswagen reportedly said the filing was expected and that the company would not comment on the allegations. However its admission to rigging the emissions systems to create the perception the diesel models were in compliance has badly damaged the company's reputation.
The complaints that are being considered for class status contend that Volkswagen along with its Audi and Porsche units, with the knowledge of company executives, violated federal racketeering statutes by knowingly rigging the vehicles in the U.S. to pass emission tests, while the tailpipe emissions actually exceeded legal limits by 40 percent. At the same time, the company was marketing the vehicles' "clean diesel technology" which enable the company to dominate the U.S. diesel market. By advertising low emission engines, high performance and fuel economy based on the rigged emissions systems, attorneys argue the company engaged in deliberate fraud.
This case is one of the more egregious examples of how automakers push defective vehicles onto consumers. If you have been the victim of a vehicle defect, an attorney with expertise in auto-product liability may be able to help you obtain compensation.
Monday, February 22, 2016
How many more vehicles are involved in the latest Takata recall?
One of the most serious and far-reaching vehicular recalls has just expanded again. On January 27, it was reported that Ford is recalling about 391,000 Ranger pickups because the driver's air bag inflators, manufactured by Takata Corp., a Japanese company, have once again been shown to potentially explode with excessive force on impact, resulting in serious injuries and even death. This is not the first time Ford Rangers have been targeted for recall over an air bag issue. They were also recalled last year to replace the passenger air bag inflators.
Obviously, this problem with the Ford pickups is an extension of the immense Takata inflator scandal that has rocked the automotive industry and put the public on further notice that they cannot expect auto manufacturers to routinely provide them with safe vehicles.
As the turmoil around Takata inflators continues to grow, the statistics have become staggering. The recalls already cover 14 auto and truck manufacturers, and approximately 24 million vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the number of recalls is likely to further expand to include other automakers.
The Case Behind the Recent Recall
This most recent recall covers trucks from the 2004 through 2006 model years in both the United States and Canada. The recall was announced just days after a South Carolina driver died as a result of his injuries from an inflator explosion. In this case, Joel Knight, a 52-year-old man, died after his 2006 Ranger accidentally hit a cow in the road, and then struck a fence.
The accident, which occurred not far from Columbia, would have been considered moderate if not for the inflator rupture. According to the family attorney, the fatality resulted from Mr. Knight being struck in the neck by metal shrapnel, not from the crash itself.
Reasons for Recalls
According to government officials, automakers will have to recall another 5 million vehicles equipped with the faulty Takata inflators. While some of the recalls will be based on the crash that killed Knight, others will be necessary as a result of air bags failing laboratory tests.
Problems with the Airbags
Apparently, at the root of the problem with the Takata airbags is the chemical ammonium nitrate. This substance is used to cause a small explosion to create gas in order to inflate the air bags during a crash. Tragically, however, the chemical, when exposed to high heat and humidity, can deteriorate over time, burning fast enough to blow apart the metal canister intended to keep the explosion contained.
Clearly, the airbag defect is an extremely serious one that has already resulted in 10 deaths (including Knight's) and more than 100 injuries. Ford has stated that it will be sending letters to owners about the recall beginning the week of February 22nd. While the auto company has some replace parts available, it is working collaboratively with air bag manufacturers to make additional inflators as quickly as possible. Ford says customers can find out if their trucks are included in the recall by going to Ford.com, clicking on "safety recalls," and then entering their vehicle identification number.
Fortunately, not all cars that are "lemons" are as dangerous as those described, but for those undergoing the continued expense and inconvenience of defective vehicles, it helps immeasurably to have a Lemon Law attorney on your side.
Saturday, January 30, 2016
What should you do after being injured in an accident that was caused all or in part by a defective vehicle?
Cars are made up of thousands of components. Unfortunately, when one component is defective it can easily cause an accident. If you were injured in an automobile accident as the result of a defective car part, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced attorney can represent you in bringing a products liability lawsuit against the auto manufacturer and other parties. Steps You Can Take After an Accident
If you know what caused the accident or exacerbated your injuries (for example your airbag deployed for no reason or your accelerator got stuck) it is important to bring the vehicle to a mechanic you trust so that they can document this. If you are unsure what caused the accident or your injuries, but believe that it may have been a defective part, you should also immediately bring your vehicle to a trusted mechanic so that they can determine whether a faulty component was at play. Once you find that a defective component was involved you should then look to see whether the manufacturer ever issued a recall.
Some common defects of automobiles include:
- Airbag failure
- Premature airbag deployment
- Breaking or unhooking of seatbelts
- Unintended acceleration
- Brake failure
- Roof collapse
At this point, you should take it upon yourself to document as much as you can about the accident. Get the mechanics findings in writing and gather police reports and insurance records. You should also take pictures of the vehicle inside and out.
Once you have done all this you are ready to speak to an attorney. You should seek out someone who is experienced with auto defect litigation and who deals with car manufacturers on a regular basis.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
What is the latest news on automobile recalls?
Fatalities linked to Takata Air bags reveals flaws in the U.S. recall system
. After eight reported deaths, and about 100 other injuries caused by shattered air bags, vehicles with these flawed devices were not not recalled swiftly enough, and completing repairs to the devices occurred at a slow pace, leaving many individuals at risk of injury or death.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced the latest death of a minor child that most likely resulted from air bags that can spray drivers and passengers with shrapnel. Although the agency acknowledged the pace of recalls had picked up -- to about 2 million per month, 19 million vehicles under the recall are still unrepaired. Moreover, it may take another 7 months to complete the needed repairs.
Consent Decree between the NHTSA and Takata
Takata reached a 5-year consent decree with the NHTSA in 2015. The company agreed to pay fines of $70 million, fire some employees and phase out the chemical explosive linked to the failures. If the company fails to live up to the agreement, it will be subject to additional fines of as much as $130 million.
The consent decree included installing an independent monitor, to be paid for by Takata. The NHTSA decree also imposed deadlines for action that are designed to speed up the pace of recalls and repairs. Meanwhile, the NHTSA has reportedly expanded its recalls beyond Honda to include models manufactured by other automakers that contain the defective airbags.
A Flawed Recall System
The slow response in the airbag debacle speaks to the broader issue of flaws in the nation's automobile recall system. According to the Center for Auto Safety, a Washington-based advocacy group, only about 70 percent of newer vehicles covered under recalls are repaired, while the figures for older vehicles are even lower -- in a range of 50 to 60 percent. In short, the flawed recall system can lead to cars that have not been repaired being legally resold, resulting in tragic deaths that should have been prevented.
Lawmakers have also failed to address this issue. Amazingly, a measure included in transportation legislation that would have required used car dealers to perform repairs on all outstanding recalls was dropped before the bill passed.
While the government is responsible for the recall system, there are other legal remedies available to consumers. If you own a car that is under a recall and repairs have not been made, you should consult with a qualified Lemon Law attorney.
Thursday, December 31, 2015
The embattled European car conglomerate Volkswagen has had a tough year.
First, the car maker came under significant global scrutiny after it admitted to altering its vehicles in order to pass American emission standards tests – hiding the fact that its diesel models emit nitrogen oxides in extremely high levels. Then, the company admitted that it had installed software (also known as “defeat devices”) in 11 million models worldwide that worked to trigger faux emission rates during testing sessions, only to return to normal levels once the emissions assessment concluded – rendering all emissions testing thus far essentially useless.
One would think, after all the negative press over the past 12 months, Volkswagen would engage in the most valiant of efforts to regain the trust of its loyal diesel constituents. And it has certainly made an attempt, known as the “VW Goodwill Package.” However, many are beginning to read (and question) the fine print – prompting inquiries over how good-natured the company actually is, notwithstanding its ongoing international legal woes.
The Goodwill Package applies to all 2-liter diesel models, and purports to offer a $500 prepaid Visa card, a separate $500 card that can only be used at Volkswagen dealerships and three years of roadside assistance. Moreover, the company vehemently insists that accepting the Goodwill Package will not impact an owner’s right to sue the company, and includes the following language: “affected customers eligible for the Goodwill Package are not required to waive their rights or release their claims against Volkswagen Group of America in order to receive the Package."
However, a separate section reads as follows: VOLKSWAGEN PREPAID VISA ® LOYALTY CARD CARDHOLDER AGREEMENT IMPORTANT – PLEASE READ CAREFULLY. THIS AGREEMENT CONTAINS AN ARBITRATION PROVISION REQUIRING ALL CLAIMS TO BE RESOLVED BY WAY OF BINDING ARBITRATION
. Again, prompting many to question whether they are further waiving any rights by accepting this Goodwill Package.
Officials for Volkswagen insist that the binding arbitration agreement applies to any disputes involving the gift cards, which were created by third parties not affiliated with VW. However, the prepaid card agreement makes several more mentions of the cardholder’s waiver of the right to a trial by jury, and that any disputes or conflicts must be resolved by arbitration in the convenient location of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
In sum, time will tell whether VW plans to invoke these clauses against diesel owners seeking compensation for faulty emissions reports and the installation of “defeat devices.” Until then, always read the fine print.
If you are a VW diesel owner with questions about your rights, contact a product liability attorney
Sunday, December 20, 2015
What steps are being taken to improve auto safety after massive recalls and deaths?
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently met with 15 automaker senior executives in order to discuss ways to improve auto safety. This meeting was organized after several major auto defects not only occurred, but remained unattended to for long periods of time, eroding public confidence in both automobile safety and government oversight.
Both safety and cybersecurity initiatives were discussed,
although no information regarding the cybersecurity initiates was disclosed. The DOT Press Secretary, Namrata Kolachalam, said that the meeting had been "very productive" and that the same group would meet again in January to evaluate progress. Among the attendees were senior executives from BMW, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Honda, Mitsubishi and Tesla Motors.
The meeting comes on the heels of the recent auto defect crises involving the General Motors ignition switch and the Takata airbags. The failure to detect these serious defects resulted in major recalls and decreased consumer confidence. Much worse, together they resulted in the loss of more than 100 innocent lives.
Results of the Meeting
According to a General Motors spokesperson, the meeting was "productive,' and "in the best interest of overall vehicle safety." Most participants reported that they were looking forward to "continuing the dialogue." The auto executives who attended the meeting were encouraged to work more closely with the government on tackling safety issues and recalling defective cars more quickly and efficiently. They were also encouraged to bring new ideas and questions to the table at subsequent meetings.
Secretary Foxx said that this meeting was evidence of the automobile industry's ongoing "commitment to safety." If you are involved with an incident involving an auto defect or recall, be sure to contact an experience "Lemon Law" attorney to assist you in obtaining justice.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
This past year has been historic in terms of automobile recalls, and the numbers keep growing steadily. In November, both Tesla Motors
and Hyundai Motors
issued major recalls of certain models amid safety concerns, meaning significant expenses for the automakers as they are required by law to repair and replaced any recalled vehicle components. Moreover, automakers can still face liability in the event a driver or passenger in a recalled vehicle is injured while driving. This is where a competent attorney familiar with the consumer rights laws concerning automobiles is invaluable.
For Tesla, the problem involves potential dangers with the front seatbelt assemblies, which are obviously necessary to ensure the safety of both driver and passenger while the vehicle is in motion. More specifically, the company announced a worldwide recall of 90,000 Model S sedans, and stated that the expense of the recall was “immaterial.” The company issued its recall after a single complaint, which occurred when a European driver’s seatbelt came unhinged when he angled his body to talk with passengers in the backseat. Tesla stated that it has emailed Model S owners, directing them to bring the vehicle to one of 125 repair centers nationwide for inspection of a bolt that attaches the seatbelt mechanism to the floor of the vehicle.
Hyundai, on the other hand, is facing difficulties on the backend, and has recalled 305,000 Sonata sedans because of potentially defective brake lights. More specifically, the vehicle’s brake pad has a tendency to become worn, causing the plunger to stick to the brake pedal and the brake light to stay permanently illuminated. Hyundai officials are also concerned that the defect could cause problems with the safety feature that allows the vehicle to override the gas pedal to engage the brakes. However, no injuries or accidents have been reported thus far.
When your vehicle is recalled or when you are face with significant or recurrent repairs of a new vehicle, get in touch with a Lemon Law attorney
as soon as possible.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
I just bought a 2015 Jeep Cherokee, and I am already experiencing problems with the transmission system. Do I have any legal recourse?
When it comes to selecting a new car, the last thought on most buyers’ minds is avoiding a catastrophic, systemic transmission failure after just 3,000 miles. However, unfortunately, this is has proven to be a reality for a number of 2015 Jeep Cherokee purchasers – many of whom report a contemporaneous failure of the vehicle’s electrical system as well.
According to reports from several Jeep Cherokee owners – particularly the 2015 Trail Hawk model – vehicles with as little as 1,500 miles on the odometer are displaying a “check engine” light, shifting hard, stalling, and creating noticeable “thumping” noises within the chassis. These same owners, hoping to fix the problem quickly and continue down the road, are being met with difficult dealerships refusing to make timely, accurate repairs. Fortunately, New York and New Jersey Lemon Laws apply to this situation, and mandate that the dealer must take immediate corrective action on this type of problem – or face significant exposure to liability.
Lemon Laws apply to newly purchased or acquired automobiles that, despite several attempts at repair, are experiencing one or more major defects that impact drivability and safety. For vehicle owners in this situation, a Lemon Law attorney can help ensure the dealership understands and recognizes owners’ rights, including the right to a full refund of the purchase price – plus expenses (e.g., towing, repairs, inspection, etc.). Lemon Laws also protect consumers from wayward dealerships that attempt to circumvent these laws, since a dealer is not permitted to waive or disclaim the rights contained under these statutes.
In New Jersey, Lemon Laws
apply to any vehicle 2 years or newer or within its first 24,000 miles. In Pennsylvania, Lemon Laws
apply to vehicles within the first year or 12,000 miles.
Lemon Law News
Timothy J. Abeel & Associates, P.C. represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, cities include but are not limited to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, Newark, and Trenton.