An automaker may have covered up a defect in its vehicles that put motorists and passengers at grave risk of serious injuries and even death, according to the latest accusation against one vehicle manufacturer.
It’s not the first time car makers have been accused of such actions. In some cases, these accusations have been proven, and car makers have had to pay out millions upon millions of dollars to injured victims and surviving loved ones – often for defects that were known for years but never addressed.
In this case, the allegation in the case before the California Southern District Court is that the electronic throttle body control systems cause the vehicles in question to suddenly – without warning or driver intention – decelerate. This in turn results in a potentially lethal situation in which the vehicle suddenly slows down wherever it happens to be. If a situation like this occurs on the highway, it could be deadly.
The plaintiff in this case alleges the vehicle manufacturer, Ford, was aware of the issue, which affected numerous Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles, yet actively concealed the dangers.
According to court records in the case, the plaintiff was operating a 2012 model sport utility vehicle, which she purchased in 2014, on a California interstate last summer when it suddenly began to decelerate. She figured it was a fluke and kept on driving the vehicle. But then it happened twice more since then.
She contacted a personal injury lawyer and, after some digging, learned numerous other consumers have been grappling with the same problem with vehicles made by the same company.
The specific part in question, the electronic throttle control, connects the throttle to the accelerator pedal and controls air flowing to the engine. If that electronic control doesn’t work the right way, electronic signals are erroneous, misreading the position of the throttle. This in turn results in the vehicle’s sudden and unexpected deceleration.
This issue reportedly affects vehicles as old as 2009 model years. What’s more, there have been thousands of online complaints made to the North Carolina Consumers Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Plus, there is reportedly evidence of tens of thousands of claims made by owners of these vehicles directly to Ford.
However, instead of initiating a recall, the company has yet to publicly address the issue and to this day continues to make vehicles with this problem.
The plaintiff noted the automaker did initiate a pair of “customer satisfaction programs” that covered some of the affected vehicles but not all of them. That meant some vehicle owners who were at risk were left believing they were fine. Beyond that, all the program did in effect was extend the warranty on the throttle. That meant drivers had to wait until there was an actual problem with it before they could seek a fix that would be covered by the company. Had the company instituted a recall, it would have been required to foot the bill for those expenses on all affected models – regardless of whether that had yet been a detectable issue.
Finally, the plaintiff alleges the company didn’t inform consumers of what to do if they were driving a vehicle that suddenly decelerated, leaving many in the dark about how to keep themselves safe.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Franco v. Ford Motor Company, Jan. 26, 2017, California Southern District Court
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