Remote Start Deaths

In 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cited a “clear safety problem” in cars with keyless ignition or remote start devices. Since then, about a dozen remote start deaths have happened due to carbon monoxide poisoning when drivers inadvertently left their cars with the engine running — a common event with keyless ignition vehicles.

It’s time for that to stop. It’s time for federal initiatives to compel automakers to correct the problem — which can be done easily and cheaply. And it’s time for keyless ignition lawsuits on behalf of victims, which can hasten the process and also provide payments — and justice — for their losses.

The Willis Law Firm can provide such a lawsuit for you if a family member has been among those suffering remote start deaths or injuries across the nation. Notify our law firm today and receive a free case review.

Why Does Remote Start Cause Deaths?

As for why remote start systems cause deaths, the answer lies in the inadequacy of the devices, which make it easy to start a vehicle without a key, but also too easy to disregard a running engine when leaving a vehicle.

When this happens, the engine of an unattended car spews toxic carbon monoxide gas, and that can kill people when the car is parked in an enclosed garage attached to a home.

While it’s easy to start a car with a remote start or keyless ignition system, it’s also easy to disregard a running engine when leaving the vehicle. Many cars today run almost silently, and a driver — who no longer must remove a key from the ignition, thus turning off the engine — may forget that the engine is on.

Also, the key “fob” whose signal enables a driver to start a car with a simple push of a button or flip of a switch will not cause the engine to stop when the fob is removed from the car. The lack of logic is inescapable. A fob must be present to start the car, but its absence won’t stop it.

Automakers easily could rectify this problem by providing automatic shut-off elements to their keyless remote systems, thus stopping an engine soon after a driver leaves a vehicle unattended. They also can install warning sounds or lights to alert a driver that the engine is running when he or she exits.

Some of these changes have been made on new models, but no industry standard is set, and no widespread remote start recall has been issued. Thus, an estimated 5 million or more vehicles remain on our roads whose drivers could suffer carbon monoxide poisoning related to keyless ignition systems.

Remote Start Fatalities

Among remote start fatalities so far has been the death of Ray Harrington, a Pfeiffer University professor in North Carolina who inadvertently left his 2011 model Chrysler 300c with its engine running in his garage in 2012.

Colorless, odorless and poisonous carbon monoxide then seeped into his home, killing Harrington as he slept, even though his bedroom was three floors up. (Carbon monoxide can be fatal in concentrations of only about 35 parts per million.)

Other remote start deaths have included:

  • Rina and Pasquale Fontanini of Highland Park, IL, whose vehicle with remote start or keyless ignition was left with the engine running at their home.
  • Ernest Codelia, 79, of New York, who died when a keyless ignition Lexus parked in a garage kept running overnight.
  • A Boca Raton, Florida woman, 29, who perished in 2010 after she left her 2006 Lexus in a garage with its engine still on.

Get a Remote Start Lawyer

Your family can fight back after a remote start injury or death by engaging a keyless ignition lawyer. Such an attorney can be provided by the Willis Law Firm. Contact us today for your free case review, and we will help you size up your prospects for a successful remote start death lawsuit.


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