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Fiat Chrysler vehicles under investigation for roll-away accidents

Posted on Wednesday, December 28th, 2016   

Earlier this month, the NHTSA began a new investigation into the electronic rotary gear shifters in Fiat Chrysler vehicles. The shifters can be found in more than one million vehicles and may have a flawed design. There have been numerous reports of cars rolling away after their drivers exited the vehicle when they believed the vehicle to be in park. In many cases, the car rolled away even when the gear was set to park.

The error is to blame in more than 25 accidents and nine injuries. Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin was killed after his 2015 Jeep Cherokee rolled backwards and pinned him to a pole in his driveway. The electronic gear shifters in question don’t actually change the gears themselves, but instead send a signal to the car to change the gear for you. This method is unlike traditional shifters, which mechanically change a gear’s configuration to the desired function. The technology has been found confusing in the past, and now there is a chance that some units are defective as well. Many people have reported their new cars are not registering being in park, despite the shifter indicating it is.

These electronic gear shifters debuted in 2013 and are used in many vehicle makes, including models from:

  • Dodge
  • Chrysler
  • Jeep
  • Jaguar
  • Land Rover

Hundreds of thousands of vehicles that use these shifters have been recalled, and this is not the first time the NHTSA has launched an investigation into them. Cars with this issue were also recalled in April of this year. Fiat Chrysler’s response has been to incorporate a failsafe, meaning some cars will automatically activate the parking brake if a door is opened while the engine is running. In some cases, they’ve tried to issue software patches to achieve the same effect.

Nevertheless, these so-called roll-away accidents remain a persistent problem that will need to be addressed. Until the results of the NHTSA investigation are released, the causes of the issues may remain unclear. The one thing that is clear is that until that point, these electronic gear shifters pose a real danger. If have been hurt because your car rolled away on its own and you believe that a faulty gear mechanism is responsible for your injury, contact the Tennessee defective car shifter attorneys of Pohl & Berk, LLP. We can help you determine the liability in your case and whether or not you are eligible for compensation. Call us at 615-277-2765 to learn more.

Multi-state lawsuits filed against Fiat Chrysler for defective Jeep gear shifts

Posted on Monday, October 10th, 2016   

Five class action lawsuits and two individual personal injury lawsuits were filed across seven states in response to a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration investigation into Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Jeep Grand Cherokee’s gear shifters.

Among these plaintiffs are Victor and Irina Yelchin, parents of film and television actor Anton Yelchin, who died on June 19, 2016 in Los Angeles after his Jeep rolled backwards and pinned him against a gate. The incident instantly killed him. The lawsuit was filed in a California state court to be consolidated with the other suits.

According to Judge Sarah Vance, “The actions share complex factual questions arising out of allegations that the monostable electronic gearshift installed in certain vehicles manufactured by FCA US LLC is defective and unreasonably dangerous in that it allegedly fails to provide the driver with an adequate indication of whether the vehicle is in the ‘park’ position and lacks a safety override function that would place the vehicle in ‘park’ automatically when a driver exits the vehicle while it is in another gear.”

If you plan to file a personal injury claim against other drivers, call our attorneys at Pohl & Berk, LLP by dialing 615-277-2765. We can help you receive compensation from those who should take direct responsibility for what caused your personal injury accident in Nashville.

Lawyer calls for removal of attorneys leading case against General Motors

Posted on Wednesday, January 27th, 2016   

Following the failure of the first trial against General Motors over an ignition switch defect in their vehicles, attorney Lance Cooper is calling for the three lead lawyers on the case to be replaced. The attorneys leading the case against GM include Robert Hilliard, Steve Berman and Elizabeth Cabraser, who chose the first case to be heard against the motor company. The plaintiffs in the first claim, Robert Scheuer and his wife, had their case dropped soon after the trial began when it was suggested that Scheuer had fabricated a check that was being used as evidence in the case.

Cooper is representing several victims suing General Motors after they recalled millions of vehicles over a defect with the ignition switches, a flaw which caused several dangerous crashes. Cooper believes that the attorneys made poor decisions in Scheuer’s case, and that his should not have been the first claim brought against GM over the defect. Cooper has now petitioned to have the attorneys replaced, claiming the failure of Scheuer’s case will impact the results of every other claim involving the defect. Lead attorney Hilliard maintains that their decision to pursue Scheuer’s case first was appropriate. The trial is set to continue with another case in March. 

Volkswagen emission cheat may have caused U.S. deaths

Posted on Monday, October 5th, 2015   

According to an analysis by The Associated Press, Germany-based automotive manufacturing company Volkswagen Group has been causing the death of between five and twenty people in the United States annually in recent years, all due to its schemes of getting around emission control levels imposed by the government.

VW admitted that its vehicles have computer software which allows them to sidestep the government-mandated emissions tests designed to minimize air pollution by detecting when a test is taking place and reducing emissions during that time. The amount of pollution emitted by these vehicles when testing is not in progress may have been the cause of anywhere from 16 to 94 deaths over the past seven years in America alone.

Carnegie Mellon environmental engineer professor Peter Adams corroborated AP’s assessment, saying, “statistically, we can’t point out who died because of this policy, but some people have died or likely died as a result of this.” The computer software designed to cheat the system has allowed these vehicles to produce 10 to 40 times more nitrogen oxides than government regulations permit.

Goodyear facing major penalties for deceptive court practices in faulty tire cases

Posted on Friday, September 4th, 2015   

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company is facing severe legal punishment after engaging in deceptive legal practices and attempting to conceal evidence of a defect and the resulting damage for at least a decade. The company has been involved in dozens of lawsuits over tread separations and blow outs with their G-159 tires. Court records accuse the company of failure to accurately report every death and injury related to the tire to federal safety officials, despite the fact that the particular tire was the subject of over 40 lawsuits at one time.

One federal court judge ruled that Goodyear lawyers withheld evidence, misled courts, and sought to seal documents in an effort to keep the G-159 defect a secret. A few tenacious lawyers representing the victims in some of these lawsuits have finally been able to obtain certain information and shed a great deal of light on Goodyear’s legal tactics.

In one such case in which the Haeger family sought compensation after a blowout caused their recreational vehicle to wreck, court documents allege that Goodyear was aware of the G-159’s incompatibility with motor homes, yet “made no subsequent effort to warn users about the liability … made no effort to inform the government what Goodyear knew … and made no effort to otherwise recall the tire or provide any post-sale warning.” They go on to assert that the company adopted a strategy in which individual claims were dealt with one at a time and any critical or pertinent information revealed during those cases would be concealed, regardless of the fact that the information they sought to hide could have prevented future deaths and injuries due to tread separation on the G-159.

In her ruling on the Heager case, U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver of Arizona found Goodyear guilty of deception and “serious discovery misconduct,” and ordered the company to pay over $2.7 million in sanctions for fraud. Silver also ordered the company to include a copy of her ruling in every G-159 civil case nationwide. Though Goodyear is seeking appeals, a tribunal of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Silver’s decision.

Owners of motor homes that are not used frequently may still have defective tires if they have not been changed recently. If you own a motor home with G159 275/70 22.5 tires, it is in your best interest to replace them right away.

NHTSA Official Revises Takata Airbag Estimate

Posted on Thursday, September 3rd, 2015   

Earlier this summer, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Mark R. Rosekind, announced that around 30 million cars would need to be recalled to replace an estimated 34 million Takata airbags. According to a report by The New York Times, that number has been revised down to around 19.2 million vehicles and 23.4 million defective airbag inflators by another official with the NHTSA who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Though this new estimate eliminates more than 10 million vehicles—some cars and trucks were reportedly double-counted in the earlier estimate that also included vehicles outside of the United States—there is still considerable work that will need to be done. As of now, only around 4.4 million Takata airbag inflators have been replaced and an estimated 19 million more still need to be replaced.

Rosekind told reporters that the NHTSA would be outlining new steps in the agency’s recall process in a public meeting sometime this fall. For the time being, we know that the agency is concerned with the rate of recall and that it will be directing specific attention to vehicles in the southern parts of the U.S. There is no official timetable for the completion of the recall.

Class action suit filed against automakers producing keyless ignition vehicles

Posted on Monday, August 31st, 2015   

Last week, a nation wide class action lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles against ten automakers in an effort to curtail threats and deaths caused by keyless ignitions in their vehicles.

GM, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Volkswagen are among the ten targeted manufacturers that the suit accuses of producing dangerous products. According to Safety Research & Strategies and NHTSA reports, the keyless design leads some drivers to believe that their key fobs are responsible for turning their vehicles on and off; however, removal of the fob from the vehicle does not turn the engine off. This has led drivers to exit their vehicles mistakenly thinking they have turned them off. As a result, at least thirteen carbon monoxide poisoning deaths have occurred. The lawsuit filed last Tuesday seeks to implement an automatic cut-off feature that would put a stop to this danger.

In addition to the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning, the keyless ignition feature reintroduces the rollaway problem that was solved in 1992 with a Final Rule stating that automatic vehicles would be required to incorporate a key-locking system that would stop the driver from being able to remove the key unless the transmission was first locked in “Park.” Manufacturers have skirted this issue with an electronic code that acts as the “key,” but this leads to confusion among drivers over the exact process of shutting off their vehicles.

So far, the NHTSA has received 46 complaints of drivers mistakenly leaving their vehicles on and 59 complaints of rollaways to date.

Urgent recall issued for some Fiat Chrysler vehicles

Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2015   

About 65 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango vehicles are being recalled due to a faulty suspension component. In a rare move, Fiat Chrysler has told the owners of affected 2015 models to stop driving these cars immediately. The urgency of the recall is unusual, spurring the company to specifically call each of the car owners in order to warn of the potentially faulty part. Owners of affected vehicles will have vehicles inspected at their homes.

The recall centers around a suspension component that has the capacity to fail and subsequently cause rear-end instability and a possible reduction in braking power. This recall comes in the wake of other litigation for Fiat Chrysler. The company is scheduled for a hearing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on July 2nd to determine if Fiat Chrysler failed to address safety defects in 10 million vehicles in an appropriate amount of time.

Several thousand other Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos need to be inspected for the malfunction. These cars, however, are on dealer lots and not in the possession of the public. There are currently no reports of injuries or accidents associated with the recalled vehicles.

NHTSA takes blame for investigation failures related to GM defect

Posted on Tuesday, June 9th, 2015   

The NHTSA acknowledges their part in the ten-year failure to recall GM vehicles equipped with a defective ignition switch in a recently issued report, according to the Washington Post on June 5.

The report stated that important facts were withheld by GM, including changes in engineering. Despite this, the NHTSA did not investigate thoroughly enough or understand the automaker’s air bag technology well enough to identify the issue. The issue, which reports stated would have taken 57 cents to replace in each vehicle, resulted in the deaths of over 100 people and the injuries of hundreds more.

Mark Rosekind, who became the administrator for the federal safety agency six months ago, issued another report simultaneously with the critique of the agency’s work—a report on how the NHTSA will move forward from this in a constructive way. According to Rosekind, new policies are already in the works, including one that would mandate all automakers to share safety investigations that are in progress.

To effectively change the agency, however, the NHTSA would need 380 workers meant to enforce defect issues; this would require about $89 million.

The U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who joined Rosekind in a conference call with reporters, summarized the news of the critique when he said, “Defective agencies, like defective people, need the capacity for self-reflection and to make room for self-improvement. And that is what NHTSA is doing today.”

The legal team at Pohl & Berk, LLP, holds automakers accountable when a defect has led to injury and expense. Call us at (615) 277-2765 today to begin taking action.

NHTSA investigates recall after Jeeps continue to catch fire

Posted on Tuesday, May 12th, 2015   

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the Jeep and Dodge SUV recall initiated last July by Fiat Chrysler after reports of fires occurring even after repairs, according to The New York Times on May 5.

The original recall included Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos from the model years 2011-2014. Around 895,000 vehicles were recalled due to defective wiring in the sun visor that could short circuit and incite fire. However, federal auto safety regulators have received eight reports of fire in vehicles that had already gone through repairs.

One Jeep Grand Cherokee owner said that the vehicle filled with smoke while he was driving, and another vehicle owner told the NHTSA that the sun visor burst into flames. Repairs for the recalled vehicles involved installing a protective plastic covering around the visor’s wiring.

A Fiat Chrysler spokesperson said the company was cooperating with the NHTSA in the follow-up investigation.

The attorneys of Pohl & Berk, LLP, know that great injury and expense can result from an accident caused by a defective vehicle. Our Nashville legal team may help you pursue financial compensation to cover your damages from the automaker responsible. Call our offices at 615-277-2765 today to learn more.

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