When you get into your car, you probably don’t take the time to wonder whether your vehicle has any design flaws or shortcomings that could put you or other drivers in danger. However, countless car manufacturers have been plagued with vehicle-related problems, from defective seat belts to ineffective airbags. A 2016 NBC News story claimed that as many as one-in-five cars in the United States could have at least one unrepaired issue covered by a recall.
Defective vehicles can be incredibly dangerous for their driver and anyone who crosses their path on the road. While some problems may be relatively minor, others can result in serious or even fatal crash injuries. Many car defects result in either a recall of the vehicle make and model or a class action lawsuit if the flaw is not caught in time to prevent an adverse outcome. In this article, we discuss some of the most significant class action lawsuits against car manufacturers.
What is a Class Action Lawsuit?
According to the Shapiro Legal Group, PLLC, a class action lawsuit allows multiple plaintiffs to file a collective lawsuit against one or more defendants. If the lawsuit is successful and the defendant is required to pay damages, the settlement is divided amongst all the members of the case. In contrast, a mass tort allows each plaintiff to collect compensation for the individual damages they suffered due to the defendant’s actions.
FCA Chrysler Pacifica Fire Risk Class Action Lawsuit
In early 2022, Scott A. Olsen filed a class action against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US, LLC. He claims that the company failed to disclose a known defect impacting 2017-2018 Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles. This vehicle make and model allegedly is at risk of exploding and catching on fire, and the car manufacturer has not yet been able to determine the cause of the problem. An internal investigation found that a dozen such cars caught fire due to the defect.
A recall was placed on the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (2017-2018 models) in the United States and Canada. All vehicle owners are encouraged not to park near other cars or flammable objects and refrain from charging their minivan. Olsen argues that this places an undue burden on car owners who are now unable to safely drive or even park their vehicle at their place of residence.
General Motors Paint Defect Class Action Lawsuit
In March of 2022, four owners of General Motors (GM) SUV or full-size truck models initiated a class action lawsuit against the manufacturer in a Florida federal court. The lawsuit alleges that the paint on the impacted GM vehicles was prone to flaking or peeling off, and that the cars should accordingly be recalled. The damage to the vehicle’s paint is stated to have occurred despite no environmental or external influences.
In the lawsuit, it is claimed that GM was aware of the defect and nonetheless continued to market and sell the impacted vehicles. It is noteworthy that, in 2021, GM and Ford had the most recalls and most individual vehicles recalled. Throughout time, the company with the most recalled vehicle makes in the U.S. is Ford.
Racial Discrimination Lawsuits Against Tesla
In some cases, lawsuits are filed not by consumers but by a carmaker’s former employees. A former Tesla construction manager filed a suit against the company earlier this year, alleging that he was fired as a retaliatory action after reporting on safety violations and racial discrimination at the automaker’s factories. The lawsuit claims that the plaintiff was fired after reporting safety hazards at a Nevada battery factory, along with a failure to disclose workplace injuries. It is alleged that the safety violations could have resulted in substantial explosions at the factory, putting lives at risk.
Another former Tesla employee filed an ongoing class action against the business in 2017, alleging that a Fremont factory fostered an environment of intimidation and racial hostility. Despite the plaintiff reporting the harassment to supervisors, human resources, and even CEO Elon Musk, the alleged mistreatment continued. Eventually, the plaintiff was terminated from the company.
Joining a Class Action Lawsuit
If a class action that may impact you has been filed, you may get a notice in the mail outlining how your legal rights are affected. Read the notice fully to see whether you are covered under the lawsuit’s premise, as it may only be applicable to victims who suffered physical harm or residents of a specific state. In most cases, you will be able to submit a claim for compensation if the lawsuit is successfully settled in favor of the plaintiffs. The notice should explain this process, so you know what steps to follow should the class action result in a legal victory.