Car companies are increasingly making car modifications in an effort to make the vehicles more appealing to consumers.
But what if your car is just too big for the factory?
Car companies have been suing car owners for hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and lost sales.
Now, the federal government is considering new rules that would make it easier for car owners to sue their car makers.
(Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post) Here’s what you need to know about car lawsuits and what you can do about them.
What are car owners suing car manufacturers over car modification?
Most car owners are not actually suing manufacturers for modifications.
The most common type of legal action is for repair, which involves replacing the car with a new one.
But modifications can be a legal tactic, too, since they are usually done to correct the problems the car has, or to improve the safety of the car.
The car companies often file lawsuits in court to collect money from owners.
Most lawsuits are brought by car owners in California, Texas and Florida, but some are filed in other states, including New York and Illinois.
How much is a car owner’s car worth?
A car’s worth is calculated by taking the market value of the vehicle at the time of sale and dividing it by the vehicle’s original cost.
(In a lawsuit, the manufacturer is called the seller.)
So if a $70,000 car costs $60,000 to make, that would mean a car worth $65,000.
If you own a used Ford Focus, you would only pay $50,000 for it.
The federal government estimates that the average car owner loses $3,400 in lost sales and about $100,000 in legal costs each year.
The law does not specify the amount of damages that car owners could recover.
In many states, owners can sue car companies for damages up to $10,000 per vehicle, although the amount varies by state.
What happens if a lawsuit is filed?
A lawsuit is usually filed when a car manufacturer or dealer makes an error in its workmanship or fails to follow proper safety standards.
It can be difficult to prove negligence because the manufacturer or dealership does not have the power to enforce the laws of the state where the accident occurred.
The case then goes to trial and the manufacturer and dealer are expected to show that the defect was caused by bad manufacturing practices.
What if a car doesn’t fit?
Carmakers typically make small tweaks to their vehicles to make them more appealing.
Some car companies add new body panels or a new engine.
But they also change the interior or the seat or the suspension.
The makers usually change these things to make it more attractive to buyers.
In some cases, the changes make the cars more expensive or more difficult to repair.
But most of the time, manufacturers don’t add these things that will make a car cheaper or easier to repair, said Mark Ehrhardt, a former assistant attorney general for civil rights and corporate accountability for the Department of Justice, in a recent interview.
A lot of car makers don’t know what is the best way to make their vehicles safer.
The best way is to use safer materials and make the vehicle safer, said Ehrhart, now with the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
But he added that car makers have no control over the design of their vehicles.
A company can’t just change the body panels, for example, he said.
So it’s the owner’s responsibility to make sure that the car is safe.
How do car companies respond to lawsuits?
When car companies are sued, they often try to settle the case in a court of law.
Some of the biggest cases involve owners who are unhappy with the car’s design or want to replace it with a better model.
But the companies also are sometimes willing to settle out of court.
The settlement typically is about $50 to $100 per vehicle and usually includes money to repair the damage.
So if the owner wants to replace the car, the companies will agree to pay for the repairs, said Michael B. Pohjak, a car safety expert at the Consumer Federation of America.
How often do car manufacturers and dealers sue each other?
The industry is fairly fragmented, so it’s hard to know the precise number of lawsuits filed each year, Pohmak said.
Most states have their own laws, and they vary.
The Federal Trade Commission has a website that lists the states with laws that allow owners to file a lawsuit against car companies.
The states with the most laws are California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia and Wisconsin, according to Pohpak.
Some states have different laws on how car makers and dealers are to handle lawsuits.
For example, states with more stringent car safety laws require the car maker to repair or replace the damaged parts or replace it.
Many states have a law requiring a car to be inspected every five years, which can make the process a little more time-consuming.
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