Car accidents are frequently caused by hazardous weather conditions, terrible driving, or distractions. However, a number of accidents are caused by defective automotive products. Automotive product liability, such as defective automotive products, generally falls under the category of product liability.

According to products liability law, products that are sold into the stream of commerce are required to meet the ordinary expectations of consumers; meaning, the product should work according to how any common purchaser would assume the product to work.

A defective automotive is a specific type of defective product, as previously mentioned. Defective products are defined as being unreasonably dangerous when being used, for its intended purpose, without any alterations or interference on the part of the consumer. Defective products can be categorized in the following ways:

  • Design defect;
  • Manufacturing defect; and/or
  • A marketing defect.

Some examples of the most common automotive product defects include, but may not be limited to:

  • Brake and gas pedal defects;
  • Safety equipment defects, such as safety belt or airbag failure;
  • Cooling, fuel, and exhaust systems flaws;
  • Misaligned steering mechanisms;
  • Various structural problems; and
  • Electrical and/or computer issues, such as defective keyless fobs.

These are considered to be dangerous defects because of the fact that they could lead to severe injury. Some examples of the most common vehicle defect injuries claims include:

  • Head, neck, and spinal injuries;
  • Collarbone injuries, such as those due to defective seat belts; and
  • Collision related injuries resulting from brake failure.

Defective automotive products, as well as products liability in general, will be further discussed later on.

What Is a Keyless Fob? Is The Keyless Fob Subject to a Significant Amount Of Lawsuits?

As previously mentioned, the defective automotive product may be the vehicle’s keyless fob. A keyless fob is a specific type of security system installed on vehicles. It is a small device that has a built-in authentication mechanism, allowing the vehicle’s owner to access their vehicle without the use of a physical key.

Keyless entry fobs are generally attached to physical keys, and can sometimes be manually overridden with the use of the physical key. However, they are intentionally designed to minimize the use of physical keys when unlocking and starting the vehicle.

As of 2015, there were various class action lawsuits pending against several different automakers, regarding an alleged flaw contained within their keyless entry technology. This includes:

  • Nissan;
  • Toyota;
  • BMW; and
  • Hyundai Motors.

An example of such claims include the fact that some defective keyless fobs may not shut the engine off properly. Any reasonable driver would expect the system to shut off the car’s engine when the keyless fob is properly removed from the area, just as an engine would stop running when the physical key is removed from the ignition.

Other examples of keyless fob defects include:

  • Issues associated with the vehicle’s locking mechanisms;
  • Lack of safety mechanisms in place to automatically shut off the engine; and/or
  • Battery issues.

Some legal claims involving defective keyless fob accidents have asserted that people have died of carbon monoxide poisoning due to the system not turning off the engine. The vehicles were left running in the owners’ garages at the time of their deaths, which would generate enough carbon monoxide to kill them.

As previously mentioned, a defective product is a type of product which causes injury to an individual. This is due to a failure to:

  • Warn of a danger (warning defect);
  • A design defect; or
  • Defective manufacturing.

Plaintiffs involved in keyless fob class action lawsuits frequently claim that the automakers failed to properly warn that the device did not have an automatic shut off. They also commonly allege that the defendant(s) failed to inform drivers about the dangers associated with carbon monoxide if the engine was shut off manually.

Legal remedies for these specific issues and injuries may vary widely, according to the exact details of each claim. Remedies will generally include a damages award which is intended to help the injured party recover medical expenses, and other financial losses.

What Else Should I Know About Automotive Product Liability In General?

Generally speaking, a product liability claim would involve a plaintiff filing against a defendant in order to hold them responsible for providing a defective or dangerous product. This product must have injured the plaintiff in some way when they used the product according to the manufacturer’s directions and warnings.

The defendant will most commonly be one of the following parties responsible for providing the product to consumers:

  • Distributor;
  • Wholesaler;
  • Manufacturer; or
  • Retailer.

It is important to note that in some cases, it is not relevant whether the seller actually caused the defect; what matters is if the retailer was part of the supply chain that provided the product to consumers. This would be known as a strict product liability lawsuit. Additionally, a plaintiff may bring a claim for negligence, or for a breach of express or implied warranties.

In order to file for automotive product defects, it is not necessary for the vehicle to be inoperative. A specific example of this would be a defective keyless fob; the vehicle is not technically inoperative, but it would be considered dangerous to operate the vehicle without first remedying the defect. Once again, in order to bring a legal claim for automotive product defects, the injured party need only demonstrate that a portion of the vehicle was sufficiently defective to cause injury.

When suing for an injury that resulted from an automotive product defect, the plaintiff must prove that the vehicle had some unreasonably dangerous defect which caused their injury.

Also, they must prove that they were using the vehicle properly and as the vehicle was intended to be used. Finally, the plaintiff must show that the vehicle was not substantially or significantly altered from the condition in which it was originally manufactured and sold to the consumer.

Although this requirement may vary, the injured party usually must provide proof that the manufacturer was negligent or careless in some way. Due to the fact that automotive product defect cases are commonly based on the legal theory of product liability, the plaintiff may be able to recover damages even if the manufacturer did not intend for the injuries to arise. However, this can only apply when the plaintiff meets the above elements, and remains true even if the manufacturer was not necessarily reckless in their actions.

Do I Need an Attorney For Defective Keyless Fob Accidents?

If you have been injured because of a defect or failure of the keyless fob, and not through any fault of your own, you should consult with an experienced and local auto lawyer regarding your legal options.

A local personal injury attorney can provide you with the most relevant legal advice that adheres to the laws of your specific state. Most importantly, a personal injury attorney will be aware of any class action lawsuits related to your case that you may be able to join.

Your personal injury lawyer will also help you gather evidence to support your claim, and provide you with guidance regarding your next best steps. Should you need to file a lawsuit, your attorney can also help you through the process, while representing you and protecting your legal rights.