Florida, Other States Reach Settlement Agreement Over Car Defect
Consumers expect that when they purchase a car or any other product that it will function properly and safely. So it’s a big deal when a company conceals a defect that could result in hundreds, thousands or even millions of injuries.
General Motors Company recently agreed to pay $120 million to 49 states and the District of Columbia to settle allegations that it concealed an ignition-switch defect, which could cause cars to lose power steering, power brakes and other electrical systems. Three years ago the automaker issued recalls for more than 9 million vehicles in the United States that potentially contained the defect.
That settlement includes $6 million for Florida.
Personal Injury Lawsuits Against General Motors
Hundreds of plaintiffs nationwide have filed personal injury lawsuits against General Motors. The automaker tried to block those and other lawsuits by arguing that declaring bankruptcy in 2009 shielded it from liability. But a federal appeals court ruled in 2016 that General Motors is responsible for ignition-switch injuries and deaths that occurred before it filed bankruptcy. The company knew that the defect existed for more than a decade but kept it a secret.
General Motors appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the justices did voted against taking the case.
If you are injured by a defective product in Florida — like an ignition-switch or other automobile part defect — then you might be able to file a products liability claim against the manufacturer, seller and/or distributor.
Florida Products Liability Law
There are two general theories of products liability under Florida law: strict products liability and negligence. Strict products liability focuses on the product and negligence focuses on the manufacturer, seller or distributor (in addition to the product).
There are three types of product defects: design defects, manufacturing defects and marketing defects. A design defect is inherent in the design of the product. For example, if a manufacturer intends that a car have three wheels instead of four, that would be an obvious design defect (because the car might not operate safely on only three wheels).
A manufacturing defect is an unintended defect. If a car was accidentally manufactured with three wheels instead of four then that is a problem with the manufacture, and not the design, of the product. A marketing defect indicates a problem with the way the product is sold. For example, if a product does not contain adequate safety warnings or use instructions then that might constitute a marketing defect.
In an action claiming negligence, the suing party would have to prove that the manufacturer, seller and/or distributor violated a duty of care owed to the plaintiff.
Contact Us Today
Contact a West Palm Beach personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation if you have been injured by a defective product. We will help you recover the compensation that you are entitled to for your injuries.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Daytona Beach and Bradenton areas.