Lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of several cars that do not require keys for their ignition, alleging people have died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning linked to the vehicles. According to reports, dozens of people have died from carbon monoxide exposure after accidentally leaving their keyless vehicles running in their garage, allowing the deadly gas to contaminate their homes. In addition to those who died, others have been injured.
Automobile manufacturers have a duty to ensure the people who buy and drive their vehicles are as safe from hazards as possible. This includes ensuring that drivers are warned when their vehicles put them in a potentially dangerous situation.
Allowing vehicles to run without the fob inside, or failing to provide effective warnings to stop a car from being left running, could put people at risk of severe, life-threatening injury.
The New York Times Reports Dozens of Keyless Ignition Deaths
Keyless vehicles are those that do not need a key to start and stop a car’s ignition. Rather, they use a push button start, also known as a keyless start, that can only be activated if the vehicle’s fob is nearby. Unfortunately, this means that some people think they have turned off their car’s keyless ignition when it is in fact still running.
Carbon monoxide from the vehicle can then enter the person’s house from the garage, causing catastrophic injuries and even death to the occupants.
According to a report by The New York Times more than two dozen people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning linked to push-button ignition switch vehicles. Many more have suffered injuries, including brain damage.
Many Cars do not Alert Drivers if Car is Still Running
Safety experts have called for features that would warn drivers their car was still running. Others have suggested a feature that shuts a vehicle off if the fob used to start the ignition leaves the vehicle for a certain amount of time. Some safety features would only cost pennies per vehicle, but still, there are automotive manufacturers that have not implemented them.
Some vehicle manufacturers have complied, but others have not or implemented warnings that are too easily ignored or are ineffective. Still, others have included them on newer vehicles but not added them to older automobiles.
Total Number of Deaths Not Known
Because there are no agencies that track the number of deaths or injuries linked to keyless ignition is left on, it is not known how many people have been affected by the issue. It is likely, however, that the number of people injured or killed after a keyless ignition car was left running is much higher than news reports indicate.
According to The New York Times at least 28 deaths and 45 injuries since 2006 have been linked to keyless car carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is a clear, odorless gas that can be found in the fumes that are released when fuel is burned. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, vomiting, chest pain, weakness, and confusion. People who are sleeping, however, may not wake up or show symptoms before they die.
Carbon monoxide accumulates in the bloodstream, replacing the oxygen in red blood cells with carbon monoxide. This limits the amount of oxygen a person has, leading to tissue damage, brain damage, and death.
Keyless Start Cars: A Timeline
The early 2000s: Keyless ignition becomes a common feature on many vehicles.
2002: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns automakers that keyless ignition vehicles could be linked to serious consequences.
2006: The first death from carbon monoxide linked to a keyless ignition vehicle is reported.
2009: Society of Automotive Engineers suggests carmakers offer warnings to prevent drivers from accidentally leaving push-button start vehicles turned on.
2018: The New York Times releases a report citing numerous deaths and injuries reportedly linked to keyless cars.
Sacramento and Oakland Personal Injury Lawyers
At Cutter Law, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers who are affected by keyless start carbon monoxide poisoning. We have vast experience investigating and litigating claims against large companies and are committed to holding them accountable for the harm they cause.
Automakers have a responsibility to properly warn consumers about risks associated with their vehicles. Some keyless ignition lawsuits have already been filed against automakers for failing to warn about the risk of accidentally leaving a car running and, further, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in certain circumstances.
If you or someone you love has been affected by carbon monoxide poisoning linked to a keyless start car, contact an attorney at Cutter Law today to discuss your options