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So What Exactly Are Automotive Industry Lawyers?

Automotive lawyers handle legal issues relating to all aspects of the automotive industry. They can represent consumers, business owners, manufacturers, and anyone else on the automotive supply chain.

Class-Action Lawsuits

Automotive lawyers are frequently involved in class-action lawsuits. Lawyers file class actions when there are too many plaintiffs to represent individually. In a class action, a small number of named plaintiffs litigate the case on behalf of all those affected by the challenged action. Then all members of the class have the opportunity to benefit from any jury verdict or settlement.

This type of litigation comes up frequently in the automotive context because cars and their components are mass-produced. This means that when a consumer has a claim against an auto company, the claim is seldom limited to just one person. Most often, hundreds or even thousands of people are affected by the same error or wrongful act.

Class-action lawsuits within the automotive industry can take many different forms. However, there are certain types of claims that arise again and again.

Defective Products

Most often, automotive class actions are based on product liability. This is when a product or component is unreasonably dangerous because of a design flaw, a manufacturing defect, or a failure to provide proper warnings.

Manufacturers are strictly liable for injuries caused by unreasonably dangerous products. That means that you don’t even have to prove they were negligent to get compensation. You have to show only that the product was unreasonably dangerous and that you suffered an injury or other damage as a result.

Although auto manufacturers try to head off lawsuits by issuing recalls as soon as they discover faulty parts, they still get sued frequently for product defects. For example, this year, lawyers reached a class-action settlement with Subaru regarding defects in its infotainment system. Ford also agreed to a settlement this year in a class-action case regarding faulty transmissions in their Focus and Fiesta vehicles. And just this past January, Tesla owners filed a class-action alleging that their vehicles inexplicably accelerated in dangerous circumstances.

Antitrust

Because auto companies are often large, they can also be implicated in antitrust litigation. Antitrust laws prohibit business practices that restrain trade, such as:

- Mergers that affect the competitiveness of a particular industry;

- Price-fixing conspiracies (agreeing with other companies to maintain above-market prices);

- Market allocation (agreeing with other companies not to compete in each other’s territory to create regional monopolies);

- Bid rigging (agreeing with other companies to let each other win bidding wars to keep bids below market price); and

- Creating monopolies by unfairly preventing other companies from competing in the market.

These types of behaviors by auto manufacturers, auto dealers, part manufacturers, or other players in the automotive industry can lead to class-action litigation.

For example, in the last few years, lawyers have achieved settlements totaling over a billion dollars with auto part manufacturers over allegations of price-fixing. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of consumers who purchased new vehicles in 31 states between 1990 and 2019 were eligible to take part in these settlements.

Employment

Employee disputes can also turn into class actions. The auto industry employs a lot of people. For example, auto industry jobs account for about 18% of total employment in Michigan, the country’s automotive center. That’s more than 750.000 workers in that state alone.

Employment disputes can arise over things like wage and hour violations, discrimination, and harassment. When these disputes stem from widespread practices or questionable policies, they can result in class-action suits.

For example, the auto industry has seen class actions based on unpaid overtime for car salespeople, race discrimination against auto employees, and mismanagement of auto employees’ retirement funds.

Auto Dealer Fraud

Another common type of litigation automotive lawyers handle is auto dealer fraud.

It’s no secret that people are somewhat wary of auto dealers. There’s a reason that we compare someone to a “used car salesman” when they act shady. While there are certainly many reputable car dealers, there are also many others who want to take their customers for a ride. And we aren’t just talking about test drives.

Both states and the federal government have imposed regulations to help protect consumers from shysters. These include things like:

- Lemon laws,

- Defective product laws,

- Implied warranties,

- Consumer protection laws,

- Disclosure requirements, and

- Financing regulations.

However, fraud continues to occur every day in the auto industry. Lots of auto fraud victims don’t know what to do when they end up with a bad car, a grossly unfair price, or a predatory financing arrangement. If your auto dealer committed fraud or violated one of the many regulations intended to protect consumers, you may need an automotive lawyer to help you hold the dealer responsible.

Automotive Business Support

Automotive businesses can face many different types of legal issues.* An automotive lawyer can advise and represent dealerships, suppliers, manufacturers, and any other auto-related businesses.

For example, if you run an automotive business, you may need help with things like:

- Business organization,

- Employment issues,

- Taxation,

- Contracts,

- Environmental regulation,

- Compliance issues,

- Warranty claims,

- Supply chain disputes,

- Cybersecurity, or

- Royalty disputes.

Automotive lawyers understand every aspect of the automotive industry and can help protect the interests of automotive businesses.

Automotive lawyers can also provide advice to help businesses comply with important government regulations regarding things like employment, marketing, and quality control.

The importance of automotive businesses having effective policies and compliance programs in place cannot be overstated. This helps prevent your business from becoming embroiled in the type of class-action litigation discussed above. It also helps you to maintain an ethical and responsible company.

Additional Source: https://millerlawpc.com/automotive-industry-lawyers/

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