Trade agreements and personal injury lawsuits don’t really go together. After all, what do tariffs and wages have to do with broken bones or head injuries, right? But there are two elements of the “New NAFTA” (currently titled USMCA, for the United States, Mexico, and Canada) agreement that we think are worth looking at.
The Washington Post reports “the USMCA stipulates that Mexican trucks that cross the border into the United States must meet higher safety regulations.”
We applaud any efforts to make vehicles or roads safer, but what do these regulations entail? No one, it seems, quite knows. Based on this document, all three parties must take part in any regulations regarding safety, public health, and environmental protection. Specifically, however, all the USMCA has is a side letter stating, “Mexico shall continue to recognize and accept FMVSS [Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards] maintained by the United States as satisfying the relevant specifications for essential safety devices set forth under NOM-194-SCFI-2015,” which is the official Mexican Standard for safety devices installed in new vehicles.
The FMVSS regulations are issued by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, and they cover everything from air bags to VIN requirements. To be part of USMCA, Mexico and Canada must agree to meet all of the minimum requirements set forth by the FMVSS for safety devices, such as air bags, seat belts, electronic stability control (ESC) systems, lights, and so forth.
This part of the new agreements deals with environmental impact – specifically, with:
- “the prevention, abatement or control of: the release, discharge or emission of pollutants or environmental contaminants;
- the control of environmentally hazardous or toxic chemicals, substances, materials or wastes, and the dissemination of information related thereto; or
- the protection or conservation of wild flora or fauna, including endangered species, their habitat, and specially protected natural areas.”
After the debacle involving VW’s lies about emissions, this part of the agreement is even more important. Fewer emissions means better health for everyone. However, the agreement also states that all three nations have the right to establish their own regulations – and doesn’t allow one country to pursue “environmental law enforcement activities in the territory of another.” In the end, we may see no reduction of emissions at all.
At this point, everything about the USMCA is still too new to predict the agreements repercussions. . But as injury attorneys who work with people hurt by defective car parts or other recalled products, and who see the effects of a serious car crash first-hand on a regular basis, we’re paying close attention to how the trade agreement could affect more than just trade.
At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, we have the resources and experience to help victims and families get justice. We file claims against the correct defendants in the right courts. For help with your car accident claim, please call our lawyers in Memphis, Jackson, and West Tennessee. You can make an appointment by phoning us now at 901-475-7434 or by completing our contact form to make an appointment. We handle car accident cases on a contingency fee basis.