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What kind or types of relief are appropriate in a defective/dangerous product case?

Washington, DC |

I am (pro se) pursuing a civil suit against an automobile company for a recall of a defective product that caused my car to burst into flames in my backyard. I am wondering what type of relief is appropriate to ask for in this situation. I have all supporting documents that support the recall would cause a fire. The vehicle was in excellent condition prior to the fire and I have documentation of that as well. I was in the process of restoring the vehicle. I installed several new parts that would preserve the life of the vehicle such as the transmission, body work, paint job, etc. I also would like to know if I had to start all over repairing another vehicle of mines that was not in driving condition, would I be able to ask for special damages for having to provide my family with another means of transportation; due to the fact that the fire was caused by a defective product? Would I also be able to ask for public transportation fees before the other vehicle was driveable? Would I be able to ask for my private selling price of the vehicle, and luxury items that was added to the vehicle?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. If the company had already put out a recall for the return of these vehciles equipped with this allegedly defective part, you should be able to get a reasonable settlement for your loss merely by submitting your written claim to them with the supporting documentation and with no need to pursue complicated litigation in federal court or elsewhere.

    But, if you somehow were to end up in court on this matter, you would likely be able to recover only the fair market value of the vehicle at the time of its destruction. (You can forget about all the special damages you've referenced; you would not get those in my opinion.)

    Michael E. Hendrickson
    Attorney & Counsellor at Law
    211 North Union Street Suite 100
    Alexandria, Virginia 22314


  2. FMV is the likely remedy. The other claimed damages are likely not recoverable as being provable under the law.

    Good luck.

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