Recalled part almost causes accident...
(San Francisco, CA)
I have a new 2015 vehicle that I was driving in traffic and the engine completely shut off, stopping the power steering, brakes and all function. Fortunately, cars around me were able to brake and avoid me, but I found myself shaking after the incident of trying to manage a vehicle where the engine stops while doing 40 mph.
After I had the tow truck deliver the vehicle to the dealership, the service member stated that they had just heard that this vehicle was having fuel pump issues that could cause this problem. They confirmed that it was the problem and are working to fix it, but I am very scared of this happening again and am not sure how comfortable I feel.
Should I seek compensation for this "near miss" and mental anguish it caused? What is the manufacturer's liability for something like this? What can I do to ensure this doesn't happen again? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Recalled part almost causes accident...":
Jonathon (San Francisco, CA):
We live in a litigious society. Unfortunately, too often people believe a disruption to their day, especially by a large corporation, entitles them to compensation. That's simply not the case. Unless the "trauma" you sustained resulted in severe psychological and/or physical injury requiring treatment, you really don't have the basis of a personal injury claim.
The "mental anguish" you suffered was not prolonged nor debilitating. "Shaking" just doesn't measure up to the standards required for a personal injury claim based on mental anguish or emotional distress.
In your case, you are alluding to product liability, based on defective product claim. You can learn more about how to establish a product liability case here.
To sustain a claim for personal injury would require you to show the following:
- The manufacturer had a duty of care to manufacture and sell cars which were safe for drivers to operate without suffering undue harm or injury
- The manufacturer breached its duty of care by manufacturing and causing to be sold a defective product
- That breach or "negligence" was the direct and proximate cause of your injury
- As a result of that injury you sustained "damages." Damages can include medical and/or therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses (for such items as medications, slings, crutches, etc.), lost wages (if any), and pain and suffering (emotional distress)
There isn't much you can do to make sure this doesn't happen again. You will either have to trust the dealership to remedy the problem, or if not, sell the car and buy another brand. And no, you can't sue the car manufacturer for the difference in price if when selling your car it loses value.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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