Each year, motor vehicle manufacturers issue recalls. Last year alone, there was a total of 30.7 million. Yet the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that just 70 percent of these vehicles get the needed repairs. The question this raises is, why?
In the first place, many car owners do not receive the recall letters. They might not arrive at the right address, they might get tossed out, or they could be set aside and forgotten.
Sometimes when people purchase used cars, they are not even aware of a recall. Whether they know or not, if the repairs are not completed within a reasonable time frame, it can lead to problems.
Motor vehicle manufacturers issue recalls when major defects in their products are brought to their attention. They can do it voluntarily, or be forced to do so by government agencies, such as the NHTSA.
If the manufacturer discovers the problem themselves, they are mandated to contact the NHTSA, auto dealers and distributors, and vehicle owners via notices. The notices can also be sent to trade publications and media outlets to alert the public.
Then, the NHTSA monitors the corrective actions taken to address the problem.
Even if a car was recalled for defective parts, this does not always make a clear case for manufacturer liability for any personal injury that may result from a car accident. The car owner, or plaintiff in this situation, has to prove that the vehicle was defective, and that this directly caused the injury. This requires proof, like pictures and testimony by witnesses. Evidence of a recall notice on its own will not support these claims.
Auto manufacturers can not rely on sending out a recall notice to fight a claim against them. It must be proven that the plaintiff bringing the case received the notice.
Further, the notice must have provided timely, specific, and appropriate warnings about the defective item(s) and the dangers presented.
The best action to take after receiving a recall notice is to get the vehicle repaired immediately, even though there is no time limit for getting the car fixed after the recall. It is also smart to be proactive, by checking the NHTSA’s website every few months for recall lists.
What happens to car owners that were unresponsive to vehicle recall notices and are involved in accidents? That depends. There can be a statute of limitations, or time limit, to initiate a lawsuit after the accident involving a defective vehicle. This can vary, according to state.
The auto manufacturer may try to shift the liability to the car owner, by asserting that they were negligent by not fixing the vehicle. This can prevent the plaintiff from receiving damages, or if they are found to have been partly responsible for the negligence, could make the damages be reduced.
Car accidents can be devastating. Having experienced counsel can make the difference in getting the compensation you and your family deserve. If you or someone you care about were involved in any type of car accident, contact a reputable Allegheny County personal injury lawyer at AlpernSchubert P.C. Reach out to us by calling 412-765-1888 or complete an online form. From our offices in Pittsburgh, we serve clients in Allegheny County, Lawrence County, Washington County, and Western Pennsylvania.