Would an RV manufacturer be liable for damage to and repair of an awning that self-deployed while driving even if it was out of warranty?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Would an RV manufacturer be liable for damage to and repair of an awning that self-deployed while driving even if it was out of warranty?

Our awning, on our 3-year old RV, self-deployed while driving on our

property. The RV was being moved from the barn to the house and about 140 ft from the barn, the awning hit a tree and was totally destroyed. Our first estimate of repair is about $14,000. The RV manufacturer says that they will not cover it since it is past their 1 year warranty. They did tell me that it would had to have been some kind of an electrical failure or a problem with the safety interlock switch. Our car insurer says that they will not cover it because it was due to either an electrical or mechanical malfunction and not due to a collision. I really feel this is a potential safety issue and even if the awning is repaired/replaced how can I be certain it wont happen again. It may even warrant a recall, when the root cause is determined.

Asked on November 6, 2018 under Business Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

IF you can show in court--you'd have to file a lawsuit--by expert testimony (e.g. that of automotive engineers or similar professionals who have examined your vehicle) that the awning and associated circuitry was either designed or installed defectively, you can force the manufacturer to pay for the damage. However, it will take a lawsuit using expert testimony (which you have to pay for--i.e. for the expert's time) proving fault to do this; there is no mechanism other than suing and proving your case in court to get compensation. And you cannot recover the expert's cost--in our legal system, you have to bear that yourself, just as you would bear your own legal fee(s) should you hire an attorney. Only by proving fault in court can you get compensation.

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