Keyless Ignition Death Lawsuit

If your family has faced the tragedy of losing a loved one due to a defective remote start system in a vehicle, please know that you can fight back. Yes, you can gain justice and receive payments for your losses by means of a keyless ignition death lawsuit. Such keyless entry lawsuits already are underway, including a class action keyless start lawsuit filed in federal court in California. You may be eligible for an individual keyless ignition death lawsuit, which can be provided by the Willis Law Firm.remote start

At least 12 Keyless Remote Start Deaths

At least a dozen deaths and perhaps as many as 19 fatalities have occurred — along with many serious injuries — due to these defective keyless entry systems. Deaths occur from carbon monoxide poisoning when an engine is inadvertently left running in a vehicle with a keyless remote system. If the vehicle is parked in an enclosed garage attached to a house, carbon monoxide from its still running engine can seep into the house and kill occupants. In concentrations of just 35 parts per million, the odorless and colorless carbon monoxide fumes can kill human beings. Keyless ignition deaths to date also include:

  • Ray Harrington, a professor at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina, whose 2011 Chrysler 300c with a keyless ignition system was accidentally left with its engine on in his garage in 2012.
  • Ernest Codelia, 79, of New York, who perished after a Lexus with a keyless system which was left in a garage with its engine running.
  • Pasquale and Rina Fontanini of Highland Park, Illinois, who died when a vehicle with a keyless start system was left with its engine running.

How Does Keyless Ignition Work?

These systems involve a keyless fob which ordinarily opens vehicle doors or trunks remotely from outside the vehicle, but in this case can allow a driver to start the engine without a key, simply by pressing a switch or an on-off button while the fob is present. Unlike decades of driving, no key in an ignition slot is involved. Since many vehicles today run almost silently, and since no key-turning is involved to stop the engine, drivers sometimes overlook turning off an engine when exiting a vehicle. Illogically, a fob must be present to turn the engine on, but the engine stays on when the fob is removed.

The problem could be solved easily and inexpensively simply by providing an audible alert to drivers exiting a car with the engine running, or by automatically turning off the engine of an unattended car after a short time. But though some automakers are installing such elements on new models, many vehicles remain on our roads with defective keyless remote systems.

Keyless Ignition Class Action Lawsuit

At least 10 automakers face keyless remote lawsuits, including the keyless ignition class action lawsuit mentioned above. These auto manufacturers are:

  • Honda
  • Nissan
  • Fiat Chrysler
  • Toyota
  • Ford
  • Hyundai
  • Volkswagen
  • Mercedes Benz
  • General Motors (GMC)
  • BMW

The 28 plaintiffs grouped in a keyless ignition class action lawsuit against those automakers contend that the auto manufacturers concealed the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by their vehicles having keyless ignition systems, leading to at least 13 deaths as well as injuries.

NHTSA Response to Keyless Ignition Deaths

So far, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has not called for a nationwide recall of vehicles equipped with keyless remote start systems. However, the NHTSA did describe these systems as a “clear safety problem” in 2011. The NHTSA has been considering a rule to create industry-wide standards for keyless remote systems in vehicles. But no formal rule has been established yet, leaving automakers to make no improvements if they choose, or to do so independently and without industry standards.

But even without a keyless remote recall, according to Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., the NHTSA “has opened a compliance investigation into 34 recent model-year vehicles that allow the vehicle to be turned off in a gear other than park, allow the key fob to be removed from a running vehicle with no warning to the driver, and allow vehicles to be restarted without the key fob present – all conditions that defy the letter and intent of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 114.” In other words, the NHTSA is continuing to investigate the problem.

IIHS Also Urges Safety Changes in Keyless Remotes

As for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the non-profit organization of insurers  stated in 2012 that it agrees in general with the NHTSA’s proposal for industry-wide safety rules governing keyless ignition systems. The IIHS also noted some keyless ignition system problems, including:

  • Shutdown procedures can differ among vehicles, or differ when a vehicle is stationary versus moving, which can confuse drivers or even foil attempts to shut down the propulsion system in an emergency
  • Drivers may forget to place the transmission in park or leave the propulsion system on after exiting the vehicle, possibly resulting in a rollaway crash, vehicle theft or carbon monoxide poisoning.

The IIHS says that, “given the growing popularity of keyless ignition systems, these problems need to be addressed.”

Some Keyless Ignition Fixes by The Manufacturers

Some auto manufacturers already are making fixes to their keyless remote systems, which is a tacit admission that such systems were defective. However, these improvements are being applied largely to newly made vehicles, with no nationwide recall in effect for keyless remote systems still on our roads. Indeed, it’s estimated that at least 5 million vehicles already in use in America have keyless ignition systems — systems which can lead to carbon monoxide deaths. Reportedly, General Motors and Ford both have taken steps to secure a patent for an element which would shut off an engine automatically when left unattended.

Already, some Ford Eagle vehicles are equipped to honk twice and show a flashing dashboard alert when a driver exits with the engine on. In addition, the Lexus RX 350 can emit several beeps to alert drivers of the problem, and the Hyundai Santa Fe also can provide audible alerts. But many vehicles with keyless ignition still have no warnings or automatic shut-offs.

Keyless Ignition Death Lawsuit

If one of your loved ones was injured or killed by carbon monoxide when an engine was left running on a vehicle with a keyless start system, rest assured you can seek legal help. The Willis Law Firm can provide you with an experienced and knowledgeable injury lawyer to claim payments for your losses in a keyless ignition lawsuit. Our law firm has been helping injured persons get paid for their losses for decades. Let us help you too. Contact us today and receive a free legal case review — at no obligation. Then you can decide if you want to proceed with a keyless ignition lawsuit.


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