After the US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board implicated Volkswagen in the 2015 Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal, the story did not stop there.
While VW continued to pay fines and compensation claims, recall affected vehicles and faced class-action lawsuits or group litigations, other carmakers were slowly getting involved in the scandal. In 2018, Mercedes-Benz, a German carmaker like VW, was called out by the KBA (Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority) as they discovered defeat devices in Mercedes’ diesel vehicles. These illegal devices are used to cheat emissions testing.
A defeat device knows when a vehicle is being tested for emissions. As the vehicle is being tested, the device turns on and artificially lowers emissions levels, ensuring that these are within the World Health Organization’s regulatory standards. A vehicle with a defeat device, however, does not have the same performance in the lab when driven in real-world road conditions.
As soon as the vehicle is out on the road, emission levels climb up to voluminous amounts, often in excess of the levels set by the EU and WHO. So, in reality, every vehicle with a defeat device was mis-sold as clean and safe. Customers paid a premium price for vehicles that are heavy pollutants.
The allegations were followed by a recall and Mercedes’ parent company Daimler had to pull out around 700,000 vehicles from their customers in Germany.
In May 2020, Mercedes emissions claims started sprouting in the UK. In the short period of time that the claims have been in the spotlight, the number of affected car owners who are planning to claim compensation has reached 16,000.
While it may seem like the diesel emissions scandal happened years ago, Mercedes and Daimler are still under the watchful eye of the authorities. Car owners continue to file one litigation case against another. In May 2021, a UK law firm representing affected Mercedes-Benz owners filed claims at a London high court on allegations that the carmaker used defeat devices.
The law firm is expecting to gather around 33,000 probable claimants in the UK. The firm estimates that the payout will be placed at approximately £5,000 per car owner (after a 35% cut for lawyers). The claim is specifically for breaching UK consumer laws by falsifying emissions data. It may be collected into a single group litigation.
Defining emissions claims
If your Mercedes-Benz was fitted with a defeat device, your carmaker lied to you. As such, you have the legal right to file an emission claim against them. Using cheat software to strengthen emissions regulatory tests is against the law and is considered false advertising. Therefore, Mercedes not only deceived you, they also disregarded the law.
Aside from the breach of trust and disregarding contract terms, the Competition Act, and consumer protection laws, your carmaker also exposed you and the people around you to the dangers of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. NOx is the gas that diesel vehicles release.
If things go well with your case, you can receive compensation that’s equivalent to thousands.
Where does nitrogen oxide fit into the picture?
As already mentioned, NOx is the gas that diesel vehicles emit. It is a pollutant that can cause devastating effects not only to the environment but to your health as well.
When nitric oxide or NO and nitrogen dioxide or NO2 react and combine, they form NOx or nitrogen oxide. NO is non-flammable. At room temperature, it can go from colourless to brown. Its smell is sweet and sharp. NO2, on the other hand, is liquid when it is at room temperature. It has a strong odour and can appear as reddish-brown in hue. As NOx, they can have life-changing effects on the environment and your health.
NOx forms acid rain, smog, and ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone affects vegetation, weakening crops and plants, making them susceptible to diseases, frost, damage, and stunted growth.
If you are regularly exposed to NOx, your lungs will be one of the first organs that will be affected. You’ll experience shortness of breath, nausea, and headaches. If you have asthma, your attacks will be more frequent; if you do not have it yet, you’ll experience aggravated symptoms. The impacts may also trigger mental health issues, particularly anxiety and depression.
If your exposure to NOx emissions is quite high and you’re exposed almost every day, the impacts can be serious. You’ll be more susceptible to respiratory illnesses and your risk for cardiovascular illnesses and cancers increase as well. Other health effects include laryngospasm or spasms of the vocal cords and asphyxiation.
Over the years, multiple studies have proven that excessive exposure to nitrogen oxide can lead to premature death. In the UK, the first such case was of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah, who had been in and out of the hospital and emergency room for months. After an inquest on her death, the coroner announced in December 2020 that air pollution is the primary reason why she died. Ella had been living along the South Circular Road area, which was highly polluted.
What to do if you’ve been affected
Filing a diesel claim can be challenging and time-consuming, and you may have to adhere to several requirements. The best thing to do is to work with a panel of emissions solicitors who are experienced and trained in winning Mercedes emissions claims.
To start, you’ll have to verify if your Mercedes is affected. Get in touch with the panel of solicitors at ClaimExperts.co.uk to find out if you are eligible to file a claim.