Articles Posted in Product Liability

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Norwood jury box 2.jpgBecause accidental injuries are unexpected, the need for a good lawyer can be immediate and unplanned. Too often people randomly select lawyers based on a television ads, phone book ads, or internet marketing. Selecting a lawyer solely on the basis of advertising precludes a well-balanced understanding of the lawyer’s actual capabilities.

However you find your potential list of lawyers–whether from advertising, a referral from a friend, or even a lawyer you used long ago, it’s a good idea to dig a little deeper to make sure that the lawyer is best equipped to help with your problem. Here are five things to look for:

Number 1: A Lawyer Who Handles Your Kind of Case

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Honda Civic Peters.jpgThe ongoing saga of one woman’s pursuit for justice against Honda is finally at an end. Heather Peters opted out of a class action lawsuit, and took her case to small claims court in California. She alleged that her Civic Hybrid did not receive anywhere near the gas mileage as claimed by Honda; and that the vehicle was harmed by software updates. She prevailed at the small claims court level, with a verdict of $9,867.19.

Honda appealed the decision to the Superior Court, where the court heard the case from the beginning (called a de novo trial). A three-day trial was held. Honda convinced the judge that Honda was permitted to advertise the EPA-approved gas mileage numbers, even though the numbers were later adjudged inflated by the EPA. Interestingly, the Court found that “[t]he majority of users report mileage very close to the EPA estimates.”

In her press release, Ms. Peters commented that:

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Beer.jpgMany clients come to us expecting that they will be entitled to punitive damages in their Maryland auto accident. This is especially true in cases where the negligent driver was drunk, or tried to flee the scene of the auto accident, or was driving while texting. Sadly, punitive damages are rarely available, even in these extreme examples.

Punitive damages are “damages on an increased scale, awarded to the plaintiff over and above what will barely compensate him for his property loss, where the wrong done to him was aggravated by circumstances of violence, oppression, malice, fraud, or wanton and wicked conduct on the part of the defendant.” (Black’s Law Dict., 1991 ed., pg. 390). These damages are intended to punish the defendant, to make an example of him.

Every state has its own law on punitive damages. In Maryland, the purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for egregiously bad conduct toward the plaintiff, and also to deter the defendants and others contemplating similar behavior. The standard in Maryland is gross negligence or actual malice.

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Honda Civic Timonium Small Claims Lawyer.pngHop on over to our other blog, Charm City Lawyer, for a series on the product liability lawsuit brought by one consumer against Honda over problems she had with her Hybrid. The judge just issued an opinion, and awarded her nearly $10,000.

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Star Trek Communications Panel.jpgIn light of all the concern about distracted driving being the new drunken driving (as if it were something fashionable, like “40 is the new 30”), we’ve been hit on both sides. On one hand, the government is proposing to take away our cellphones while we are in the car–this includes stop lights, this includes hands-free devices like bluetooth. On the other hand, we have emerging technologies becoming standard on new cars that have their own hands-free devices that automatically connect with our cell phones.

Ford is rolling out MyFord Touch (developed in conjunction with Microsoft) on more and more of its vehicles. It has many functions, including a hands-free calling feature and for sending/receiving text messages via voice, but it allows voice commands to control many car systems, for example, the climate. It’s a little Star Trek for our own private shuttlepods (Majel Barrett Roddenberry’s voice not included).

The warning on Ford’s website states:

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Cadillac recall.jpgCadillac announced a recall of their 2010 and 2011 SRX vehicles (yeah, I had to look it up–I drive a Saturn) because of potentially defective transmissions. This recall affects 8,789 cars. The problem is that a transmission shift cable may come out of the transmission bracket. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration explains the potential problems:

THE DRIVER MAY BE UNABLE TO SHIFT THE TRANSMISSION OUT OF GEAR, RESULTING IN NO MOTION OR THE SHIFTER MAY INACCURATELY INDICATE THAT THE TRANSMISSION IS IN PARK WHEN IT IS NOT, ALLOWING THE VEHICLE TO ROLL AWAY AND CAUSE A POSSIBLE CRASH.

The interesting question here is how a recall like this affects Maryland automobile accident lawsuits? The answer: it depends on the type of case.