Most Maryland drivers hope that they never have to deal with the car manufacturer once they purchase a car. When someone purchases a Ford, or Toyota, or Chrysler, they do not typically expect to have to contact that company again to have to deal with repeated issues in the car. However, occasionally cars bought and sold in Maryland will have defects in them, which may make the car non-functional or even dangerous to drive. In these cases, drivers should know that they may have a civil cause of action against the car manufacturer—they may be able to hold them liable in a court.
For example, take a recent state appellate court case dealing with a defective car. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff purchased the brand new car in 2011 for $44,748. The car came with a three-year, 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and a five-year, 100,000-mile power-train warranty. But the plaintiff almost immediately experienced problems with the vehicle. About six months after purchase, only 9,466 miles in, he brought it in for repair because the vehicle would not start. This was a recurring problem for the plaintiff; he estimated that it happened more than ten times. Additionally, the plaintiff brought his car in for repair more than 10 times over a 3.5 year period.
After 3.5 years of multiple problems with his vehicle, due to a suspected defect supported by expert opinion, the plaintiff gave up when the seat belt malfunctioned for the third time. He reached out to the defendant company to utilize his guaranteed warranty, since he was only at 44,457 miles. But he was told that his initial warranty had expired and he did not qualify for a buy-back. A few months later, while driving, the plaintiff experienced a concerning incident—the dashboard of his car lit up, the temperature gauge spiked, the car stopped, and smoke came out from under the hood. Because the plaintiff now had no trust in this vehicle and thought it was only a matter of time before it caused an accident, he purchased another vehicle.
The plaintiff sued for breach of warranty and fraudulent concealment, and the jury rendered a verdict against the defendant on both counts. The defendant appealed, and the court reversed part of the judgment. In response to the breach of warranty claim, the court upheld the verdict, finding that the jury was correct to find that the defendant breached by not repairing or buying back the vehicle. However, on the fraudulent concealment claim, where the jury verdict amounted to over $1.2 million, the court reversed.
How Do You Prove Fraudulent Concealment in a Product Liability Case?
To prove fraudulent concealment in a product liability lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant knew about the defect and concealed it. This is a difficult burden, however, it can be done in certain cases. However, in the case discussed above, the court determined that there was no evidence the defendant was aware of the defect until after the vehicle was purchased, so the defendant evidence did not have the opportunity to conceal evidence.
Do You Have a Maryland Products Liability Claim Against a Car Manufacturer?
If you’ve been involved in a Maryland car accident, or otherwise have a potential claim against a car manufacturer, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. But collecting what you’re entitled to can be more difficult than it seems. Contact the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, to learn how we might be able to help you when you’re injured due to a defect. Call us today for a free consultation at 800-654-1949.