Mercedes-Benz car owners in the UK who were affected by the Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal have decided to seek legal action against the carmaker. Bringing a claim against the company will compensate them for the inconvenience that the illegal emissions-suppressing device the company has installed in their vehicles has caused them.
This latest action is linked to the 2015 Dieselgate scandal that initially involved Volkswagen, where the car manufacturer was discovered to have used defeat devices in their diesel vehicles. The VW Group has spent millions, possibly even billions, in fines, compensation, and class-action or group litigations. Other manufacturers have had to do so as well. The effects of the scam continue to affect the automotive industry.
Last year, a legal firm in the UK was able to encourage around 33,000 prospective claimants. The estimated payout for every car owner is £5,000. It’s the first claim case in the UK courts against Mercedes so it’s understandable that several law firms have expressed their intent to join in on the action. Multiple claims will most likely be grouped under one litigation order, which means hundreds or thousands of compensation claims can be brought to court as one.
In the latter part of 2020, Mercedes reached a settlement with US authorities and customers. The German carmaker paid a total of around £1.91 billion ($2.2 billion) to £1.30 billion ($1.5 billion) to American authorities and £608.67 million ($700 million) to car owners who brought a class-action lawsuit against Mercedes.
Legal representatives in the UK expect around 1.2 million affected car owners – fleet owners, lessees, and private vehicle owners, who are eligible to make a claim. If these claims were to be joined together, their theoretical value would total to over £1 billion.
What does the Dieselgate scandal have to do with the claims?
The diesel emissions scandal in 2015 has everything to do with the Mercedes emissions claim.
In September that year, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board discovered defeat devices in diesel vehicles sold by the Volkswagen Group. The devices were found in VW and Audi cars and were meant to cheat emissions tests.
Defeat devices are engineered to detect when a vehicle goes into emissions testing. Once a defeat device does this, it can mask or hide emissions levels from authorities and keep the level within the limits that the World Health Organization (WHO) sets.
However, once the vehicle is taken out of the lab and driven on real roads, it switches to default settings and releases excessive amounts of NOx or nitrogen oxide, at levels that violate WHO and EU limits. Thus, the vehicle expels toxic fumes and contributes to the global problem of air pollution.
Aside from Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, BMW, Alfa Romeo, Vauxhall, Nissan, Ford, Jeep, and several other carmakers were also implicated in the scandal.
What about nitrogen oxide? Why is it dangerous?
The pollutant that diesel vehicles emit is called NOx or nitrogen oxide. It is a group of gases that has NO or nitric oxide (NO) and NO2 or nitrogen dioxide as the main components. These two gases catalyse the formation of acid rain and smog.
Additionally, when NOx combines with other chemicals, it produces ground-level ozone. This pollutant impacts vegetation and is particularly dangerous for plants and crops as they can become weaker and more susceptible to frost and damage. NOx emissions also stunt their growth.
Anyone who is exposed to nitrogen oxide emissions can also experience mental health issues, specifically depression and anxiety. It can affect a person’s cognitive function as well.
The most life-threatening effects of NOx emissions are the ones linked to a person’s overall health. Low-level exposure can cause difficulty in breathing, lung problems, headaches, nausea and vomiting, asthma, and respiratory issues such as emphysema and bronchitis.
Constant exposure to high levels of nitrogen oxide emissions can cause chronic lung function reduction, increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, increased susceptibility to certain cancers, spasms of the vocal cords (laryngospasm), asphyxiation, and premature death.
Carmakers that installed defeat devices in their diesel vehicles did not only deceive their customers, they also exposed their customers to the dangerous effects of nitrogen oxide emissions. Car owners have every right to bring a claim against their manufacturer. They have the right to claim compensation for the troubles that the defeat device has caused them and the people around them.
Are you eligible or not?
How do I start my diesel claim? The claims process can be challenging and time-consuming, especially for first-timers, but a panel of expert emissions solicitors can help make it easier and more convenient. However, you have to find out first if you are eligible for a Mercedes emissions claim. The team at Emissions.co.uk can help you with this. Once you’ve determined your eligibility, you can proceed with the claims process with the guidance of your solicitors.