The fatal injuries sustained by an actor, along with literally hundreds of dangerous events, have propelled the filing of class action lawsuits against Jeep carmaker, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). As the seventh largest car maker in the world, FCA has a major safety issue — a basic safety component of just about every car made, seems to be failing in the Jeep. The problem is with the gear shifter which can be left in gear when the user thinks it is in park. As a result of injuries and the high-profile fatality caused by this problem, and after a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation, some vehicles are now subject to a major recall. The recall involves over 800,000 motor vehicles.
Currently there are over ten law suits that have been filed against FCA. The plaintiffs include seriously injured vehicle owners whose cars rolled when they thought their vehicles were in park. Some owners have been injured trying to stop the vehicles from continuing to roll. The lawsuits are seeking a replacement to the dangerous gear shift and a correction that would cause the vehicle to be in park if the brake is released and driver door is open. The vehicles targeted in the class actions include the 2012-14 Dodge Charger, 2012-14 Chrysler 300 or 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The gear shift issue gained high-profile status when the well-known StarTrek actor Anton Yelchin was killed when his Jeep rolled and pinned him against a security fence and brick pillar at his home. His parents have filed a lawsuit in California for their son’s death; his accident is under investigation by authorities.
The problem with the gear shifter is that it returns to center after put into any gear, making it very difficult to determine whether the vehicle is in park when that is the intention. There is also a problem with the user knowing which gear has been selected. NHTSA has concluded that the design violates vehicle control guidelines. The company’s position is that they are offering a correction and that the vehicles’ value is not diminished by this problem. The company’s corrections include updating the transmission software and providing a warning chime that the vehicle is not in park. The lawsuits seek to have the gear shift replaced.
When a vehicle manufacturer ignores the safety concerns of its consumers and they are injured or worse, the federal government often steps in to support the investigation and correction efforts. In the case of FCA, the company allegedly did not respond quickly to the complaints of its consumers. We have seen extremely large recalls in the past several years including those with Takata airbags and General Motors’ ignition switches. If you own a vehicle made by FCA, please check your vehicle for the recall and contact your dealer to make sure that your vehicle is not one that might have this potentially dangerous gear shifter.
Scholle Law provides free evaluations of accidents and injuries. Our legal team represents those who have been harmed by the actions of others. We support with great care and compassion, injured victims and their families. We also support surviving family members in wrongful death actions, which are very challenging for families. Our job is to take the burden off your shoulders. Our clients know that this is one of the many benefits of working with our law firm.