Lemon Law and Product Liability

April 13, 2010

Toyota has again had to ask dealers to cease sale of one of its vehicles. The Lexus GX 460 is at an increased risk for rollovers during turns, according to tests performed by Consumer Reports. No reports of injuries or deaths have been reported so far.

If a person is injured because of a defect, often an attorney will bring a product liability lawsuit. In that kind of case, a consumer can allege a design defect or manufacturing defect without any previous symptoms. A typical lemon law case, however, tends to focus on the unreasonable repair history.

In a product liability lawsuit, the damages award is often to compensate a victim for injuries suffered because of the design defect of manufacturing defect, and for non-economic damages, often called pain and suffering damages.  A lemon law case rarely involves injuries, though repeat repair attempts could create a safety hazard.

It is possible for an vehicle incident to be both a lemon law case and a product liability case. For example, there may have already been an unreasonable number of repair attempts and the ongoing problem with the vehicle resulted in injuries.

Bringing a lemon law case has some advantages. First, if a consumer prevails, the consumer can be awarded attorney’s fees. Second, a lemon law case can measure damages in two ways: the loss of value of the vehicle, and consequential damages, like medical bills. Third, proving an unreasonable repair history is often much easier than trying to prove how a manufacturer incorrectly designed or built the vehicle.

As more defects are discovered with vehicles, like the Lexus GX 460, more consumers may realize that the problems match the same symptoms they have been reporting for some time.

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