PRODUCT LIABILITY – Federal Car Safety Standards Are Inadequate

Federal law requires all cars sold [to the public] in the United States to meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). It sounds good, but it’s not.

The FMVSS are minimum standards for vehicle safety. Many of the standards applicable today were issued in the 1960s and 1970s, cover only a limited number of car safety and performance aspects, and manufacturers are allowed to self-cerfity compliance (in contrast to the approval of new drugs by the FDA, which has demanding requirements before drugs can be put into the hands of consumers), while the creation of better standards is subject to political pressure, with rule making through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) being a quasi-legislative process. Changes, if any, come in tiny increments at a snail’s pace.

In concept, market forces were expected to encourage manufacturers to produce vehicles that exceeded the minimum safety standards. Sadly, this has not occurred with enough frequency and consistency to be considered a success story. Rather than battle for a competitive advantage, most manufacturers settle for the least common denominator in safety and performance.

If allowed to operate free of unreasonable constraints, the civil/legal justice system provides the best opportunity within the American system to effectuate positive change in the direction of improving motor vehicle safety standards.

Many states have legal standards that require car safety levels greater than those of the FMVSS. Parties injured or killed by deficient products may use these higher legal standards to seek compensation in private lawsuits against the manufacturers. When the damage awards are large enough, vehicle manufacturers will sometimes pay attention and improve their products. This is a more effective, democratic, and capitalistic remedy than relying on the government to police the manufacturers through its toothless and beholden agencies.

Power to the people through private civil actions!

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Contact us at 866-785-GALE or by email to learn your legal rights.

Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.