Maryland Personal Injury Lawyers Discuss Deadly Defect in Keyless Ignition Systems

Ten of the world’s largest automakers are being sued over claims that the companies concealed a deadly defect in their keyless ignitions, leading to least 13 deaths and many more injuries. The lawsuit claims that the defect allows drivers to unknowingly leave their cars running inside enclosed garages, creating a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

More than five million vehicles are equipped with keyless ignitions. The device lets drivers start their vehicle by pushing an on/off button instead of inserting a key. The vehicle will only start if it senses that the electronic key fob is nearby. The driver pushes the same button to turn the vehicle off.

The danger of keyless ignitions lies in a design defect that allows the engines to continue running, even after the driver and the key fob have left the vicinity of the vehicle. A driver may mistakenly believe that the car has shut off, when it in fact has not. This is especially common in cars that have quiet, smooth running engines; and in those that make no sound at all, such as engines in hybrid vehicles.

Vehicles left running in a garage can cause a build-up of poisonous carbon monoxide. This colorless, odorless gas can seep into the attached residence and create a deadly environment for anyone inside or nearby. This includes drivers, their families and other occupants of the home, neighbors, and first responders. Unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning kills nearly 430 people every year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Defendants in the class action lawsuit include BMW such as the Mini, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz, Fiat Chrysler, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Honda, Acura, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Infiniti, Toyota, Lexus, Volkswagen and Bentley. The lawsuit alleges that the companies have long been aware of the risks associated with the keyless ignitions, yet continued to market their vehicles as safe.

Since 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received as many as 27 complaints regarding dangerous keyless ignitions. The plaintiffs claim that automakers could have prevented the 13 deaths and many more injuries by adding an automatic shut-off feature to the keyless ignition systems. The lawsuit seeks an injunction that would require automakers to install such features on all existing and future vehicles sold with keyless ignitions. They also seek compensatory and punitive damages.

Maryland Product Liability Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Fight for Those Harmed by Dangerous Defects in Vehicles

If you or a loved one has been hospitalized with carbon monoxide poisoning that resulted from mistakenly leaving a vehicle running in a garage, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Contact us online or call 800-547-4LAW (4529) today to schedule your no cost consultation with one of our experienced and highly skilled Maryland personal injury lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie and Towson and we represent clients throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.