When it comes to automobiles and personal injury, it is typically the bodily injury of the occupants of a vehicle during a crash or collision. Such personal injuries often involve broken bones, bruising and in the worst cases, severe injuries to the neck, internal organs, spinal cord, or traumatic brain injuries resulting from the impact to the vehicle during the crash.
Last week, word came from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the automaker Volkswagen had manipulated the software on their diesel vehicles, making them appear to run much cleaner during tests than they actually operated. According to the EPA, they may have emitted as much as 40 times the allowed limits.
The violation does not create an imminent safety threat to the public in the same way that the General Motors ignition switch defect did, which could turn off the vehicle's power, causing a crash and disabling the airbags, which was linked to some deaths of the affected GM vehicles.
But the long-term harm to the environment of the higher levels of pollution creates a threat to the public's health, and the EPA has threatened VW with as much as $18 billion in fines.
This incident could be a significant problem for VW, because it could affect as many as 11 million vehicles, with 500,000 located in the U.S., and appears to have involved an intentional plan to deceive regulators and consumers.
The value of some of the vehicles resale value may be diminished, as a fix to the emission problem could lower the power of the engine. The trust in the company may also be greatly diminished given they marketed the vehicles as "clean diesel."
Consumers have to trust manufacturers with their lives every time they get behind the wheel, but it is a proposition that is become increasingly difficult to believe in.
Source: chicagotribune.com, "Volkswagen owners should be nervous about emissions scandal, experts say," Becky Yerak and Gregory Karp, September 21, 2015