Class Action Attacks Automobile Key Fobs

Most of us know that when products are defective and injure people, a consumer has the right to sue the manufacturer and the seller for damages. We usually think of defective products as ordinarily safe items that are made poorly, or “one-offs,” which come off the assembly line different than other similar products.

But often, products that we use every day, and which perform as expected, can injure people and be the subject of a product liability suit. Often, defective items are ones that you may use every day.

The Dangers of the Key Fob

One such item is the ubiquitous car key fob. A key fob is the electronic device on many keychains that electronically communicates with cars that have keyless entry or keyless ignition. Simply press the ignition button in your car, and as long as the fob is within a certain distance, the car will start.

But one lawsuit is alleging that there is a problem with key fobs. The problem is that you need the fob to turn the car on, but it has no role in turning it off. Many people assume that if you move the fob away from the car, it will turn off. In fact, it does not. In most cases, a running car will keep running, even if you walk away with the key fob. That, some attorneys say in a lawsuit, is an often fatal defect.

Running engines emit carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that silently kills. When people walk away from their cars, either forgetting to turn it off, or believing it will do so automatically as the fob is distanced from it, and that car is in an attached garage, carbon monoxide permeates the home, and the occupants can be killed.

By one report, there have been 19 such fatalities since 2009 and 25 near deaths. Even the National Highway Safety Administration has admitted that keyless entry cars pose a problem, but there has been no regulation.

Private Class Action Seeks Changes

Thus, a private attorney has taken automakers to task in a class action lawsuit.

The lawyers point to the fact that some cars do, in fact, have automatic engine shutoff. Thus, they argue, there is no reason why all of them should not have such features. They also argue that if headlights shut off automatically, there is no reason why engines should not have the same feature.

It remains to be seen what will happen in the litigation. But it is a reminder that product liability suits can often bring about change that government regulation can not or will not.

If you have been injured by the negligence of another or by a defective product, you should make sure the party responsible is held to task. Contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss getting reparation for your injuries.