What If a Recalled Vehicle Is Responsible for My Injuries?
Imagine you are driving along peacefully, and your breaks suddenly give out. This results in a crash and bodily harm. The car is fairly new, and you’ve had no other problems with it. You believe you were sold a lemon, but after doing some research, you discover that similar complaints have been made against the make and model of your car. You have just been injured by a recalled vehicle.
Personal injury law is there to compensate people who have been injured by someone else’s negligence. When the negligence in question came from the makers of the car, what can you do? In this situation, you may need to sue the manufacturer for selling a defective product.
Defective Product Lawsuits
To win a lawsuit against a car company that sold a defective vehicle, you must demonstrate that there was a manufacturer error. A manufacturer error happens when something doesn’t work as intended. For example, many electric cars were recently recalled when their batteries caught fire. Clearly, no one designed the batteries with the express purpose of bursting into flame. The part itself was bad and created a disastrous result. This is an example of a manufacturer error.
Defective product lawsuits can also be brought against a company for design flaws. In the case of a defective car, design flaws happen internally. It isn’t a bad part or poor construction that caused the defect. The flaw is in the very design of the car, and all of the cars were made with this same error. Perhaps two parts of the car don’t work well together, and no one knew about this problem until much later in the car’s lifespan. That would be an example of a design flaw.
Improper labelling is cause for a defective product lawsuit as well. This would be unlikely for a defective car because there are rarely dangerous items built in. “Improper labeling” works only when the manufacturer was aware of the danger in using their product, and they failed to provide proper warning.
Class Action Lawsuits
When many people suffer the same injury from a product, they sometimes join together and file a large lawsuit called a “class action suit.” Typically, one person represents the entire group, but if the plaintiffs win, everyone involved in the suit receives a settlement.
Why You Should Regularly Check Your Vehicle for a Recall
Recalled Cars Are Dangerous
Vehicle recalls happen only for serious safety issues. In 1966, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act put the government in charge of recalling dangerous cars. The organization in charge of recalls, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), demands that cars posing a “risk to motor vehicle safety” must be recalled.
Recalled cars have brakes that don’t work or engines that give out. They lurch forward when they are supposed to be in neutral, or they have steering problems that cause the car to drive wildly. Perhaps they have batteries that catch fire, as we previously mentioned. A car that has been recalled can be so dangerous that a “do not drive” warning is issued along with the recall.
The threat doesn’t always have to be so immediate. Sometimes, a flaw is discovered that will cause a dangerous situation later. For example, there could be two parts that were installed close together, and manufacturers discover that, as consumers drive the car, these pieces begin rubbing against one another. Perhaps the pieces don’t cause a spark or start a fire, but one of the parts can be dislodged, causing the engine to suddenly shut down. The car may be safe to drive for a while, and may never encounter this problem. However, it is being recalled because you could be in danger if you don’t get it fixed.
Also, a car can be recalled when it doesn’t meet certain safety standards. It could be something as simple as headlights not meeting the required brightness. This may sound like a problem you can ignore, but you shouldn’t. If improper lighting is impairing your vision or causing others to miss your presence, you could find yourself in a deadly accident.
Recall Notices Are Slow
Car manufacturers are good at spotting defects in their cars, and they have good reason to be. They can be fined up to $11,000,000 for hiding or lying about defects. These days, companies keep fastidious records of every car, plant, and part. They track complaints. If enough consumers complain about the same issue, manufacturers can pinpoint exactly where the cars originated and exactly which parts are problematic.
From there, they are quick to act. They recall the car and send notices to the NHTSA, the news, and the internet. From there, the speed of notices slows down considerably. By law, companies must send a written notice to every customer affected by the recall. This can take days or weeks. Most people have busy lives, and it’s difficult to stay current on the news. If you do not check for yourself, you could be unaware that you are driving a dangerous vehicle.
Older Cars Can Be Recalled
Don’t assume that because you’ve had your car for a long time, you don’t need to check its recall status. By law, recalls can happen up to 15 years after the car was sold. This applies to any used car. Dangerous car defects don’t always happen immediately. Sometimes the damage is cumulative, not appearing until well into the lifespan of the car.
How to Check for a Recall
Checking for recalls should be a part of your regular safety routine. You can simply enter your VIN number into any vehicle recall website.
There are many websites that offer vehicle recall information, such as:
Recalls must be free to the consumer within the legal 15-year period, but many car companies will pay for recalls long after that. You have nothing to lose by continually checking your car for a recall, and you have safety and security to gain when you do.
If a defective, recalled car has caused you harm, call us today at (918) 347-6456 or contact us online. We are here to fight for justice and protect consumers.