Experienced Attorneys Representing the Rights of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Victims and Their Families
Keyless ignition systems first started appearing in vehicles in the late 90s. Since then, they have become commonplace, and were included as standard equipment in 62 percent of cars sold in 2018. Also known as push-button start, smart key, keyless start, and other manufacturer-specific names, keyless ignition technology undoubtedly provides convenience. As long as your key is in your pocket, your purse, or elsewhere on your person, you can unlock your door and start your car without having to get your keys out.
Unfortunately, keyless ignition systems have had unintended consequences as well. Without the need to turn a key and remove it from the ignition system, some drivers have been parking their cars in their garages and inadvertently leaving their vehicles running, causing their homes to fill up with colorless, odorless, and potentially fatal carbon dioxide gas. According to a report in the New York Times, more than two dozen people have been killed by carbon monoxide since 2006, and even more have sustained brain damage.
At Ammons Law, we are committed to representing the rights of individuals whose lives have been adversely affected by carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of keyless ignition systems. In many cases, we may be able to recover compensation on behalf of victims and their families from the car manufacturers that have failed to design their vehicles with adequate safety systems, putting everyone at risk. To schedule a free case evaluation with a Houston keyless ignition attorney, call our office today at (866) 783-6117.
The Basics of Keyless Ignition Systems
Keyless ignition systems allow drivers to keep their key fob in their pocket or bag when locking, unlocking, and starting their vehicle. The fob transmits a radio signal recognized by antennas that are installed into the body of the vehicle. These systems allow drivers to start the vehicle without having to place a key into the ignition in order to disable the immobilizer, allowing for push-button ignition.
Automakers Have Fought Regulations Designed to Keep People Safe
The problem with keyless ignitions arises when drivers forget to turn their vehicles off when they park them in their garages. While a vehicle is running, it expels carbon monoxide gas from its exhaust, and the concentration of this gas within a person’s home can reach dangerous levels quickly. Without the routine of turning a key and removing it from the ignition, drivers – and particularly drivers who have been driving for decades – are at risk of forgetting to turn the car off. This risk is exacerbated by the fact that today’s engines are quieter than ever, making it easy not to notice that a vehicle is idling in the garage.
In 2011, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the premier international automotive standards group, published safety recommendations that suggested warning systems such as a series of beeps that would alert drivers to the fact that their cars were still running or systems that turn vehicles off under certain circumstances. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed federal regulations based on the SAE recommendations but dropped the idea after facing opposition from the automotive industry. According to NHTSA research, the proposed changes could have just a few cents per vehicle.
The Basics of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas, making it very difficult to determine that it is building in a given environment until people start getting sick. Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when the gas builds up in your bloodstream, and your body starts to replace the oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide. When this happens, it can cause severe damage to your tissues and may even be fatal.
Some symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Blurred vision
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of consciousness
It is important to be aware of the fact that the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning can be hard to spot, but the condition is a serious medical emergency. Even in non-fatal cases, victims can be left with irreversible brain damage that can have a significant impact on their quality of life and ability to engage in everyday tasks. As a result, if you suspect that you or someone else has been exposed to unsafe levels of carbon monoxide, it’s critical that you get outside and seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Individuals Who Are Injured by Keyless Ignition Systems May Be Entitled To Compensation
Currently, there are several active lawsuits against auto manufacturers regarding carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of keyless ignition systems. These lawsuits allege that the systems were defectively designed in that they allow the car to continue running when the fob is not in the car, creating an unreasonable risk of injury. People who have sustained injuries as a result of keyless ignitions systems that allow the vehicle to run without the fob in the vehicle may be entitled to compensation for their injury-related losses, including:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses,
- Past, current, and future lost income
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Lost quality of life
As an accident victim, it is crucial to recognize that you only get one chance to settle your case. Once you have accepted a settlement offer, it’s nearly impossible to get additional compensation for your losses, For this reason, it’s vital that all of your losses are compensated for in any settlement you accept – including those that have not yet occurred. In cases involving long-term injuries like brain damage, this often means enlisting the assistance of financial and medical professionals who can provide accurate and empirically demonstrable estimates as to how much your injuries will cost you over the course of time. At The Ammons Law Firm, we make sure that we obtain the necessary documentation and other evidence so that our clients obtain the full and fair value of their legal claims.
Texas Wrongful Death Actions
When someone passes away due to a fatal accident, such as unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, the surviving family members are left with emotional grief and, also, financial losses, especially if the deceased victim was the primary financial contributor to the household. The law gives qualified family members the right to seek compensation for their losses by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
The laws regarding wrongful death claims vary from state to state. In Texas, the death must be caused by the negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing of another party, which can include negligent car manufacturers. Similar to a personal injury claim, family members will need to present evidence of a company’s negligence to recover after a death stemming from keyless ignitions and carbon monoxide.
The individuals who are eligible to be plaintiffs to a Houston wrongful death case include:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving children, including adopted and adult children
- Surviving parents, including adopted parents
Family members can file individual claims or can join together to file a single lawsuit. If the above family members do not file a case within three months of the death, the executor or the personal representative of the estate may file a claim on behalf of the estate.
The relief in a wrongful death case is monetary damages, which aim to compensate family members for their losses stemming from the death. Common damages in wrongful death cases include:
- Lost earnings of the deceased
- Lost services, maintenance, care, counsel, and support of the deceased
- Lost companionship, love, and comfort of the deceased
- Lost inheritance the family members would have received if not for the death
In some cases, exemplary damages are possible, which are also known as punitive damages. These are intended to punish the wrongdoer for egregious conduct, and an attorney can advise whether these damages may be available in your case.
When you prevail on a wrongful death claim, family members will receive a portion of the damages in proportion to their degree of losses. If the personal representative or executor files the claim, the damages will go to the estate, and will later be distributed to family members based on the deceased’s estate plan or based on Texas law. Wrongful death claims involving keyless ignition accidents are complicated, and you want the right attorney helping you seek justice for the tragic loss of your loved one.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Houston Keyless Ignition Attorney
If you or a family member has been injured by carbon monoxide poisoning caused by keyless ignition system, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. The lawyers of The Ammons Law Firm have more than 100 years of combined experience representing the rights of the injured and are committed to obtaining the most favorable result possible in every case we take. We will not hesitate to go up against the largest car manufacturers and their insurance companies in order to ensure that our clients get the compensation they deserve under the law.
To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a Houston keyless ignition injury lawyer, call our office today at (866) 783-6117 or contact us online.