On any given day in the United States, we will find that there are many vehicles currently facing recalls. In some cases, a recall makes the news, often because there have been accidents or even fatalities associated with a defective vehicle. However, the vast majority of vehicle recalls occur due to rather benign issues that have not yet caused any injuries or fatalities, but could potentially cause a problem in the future. Unfortunately, some issues are not discovered until after the worst has occurred. Here, we want to discuss who is liable if a recalled car or truck causes a vehicle crash. While it may seem straightforward that the vehicle company should be held liable, determining fault can actually become incredibly challenging in these situations.
A vehicle recall occurs anytime a government agency or vehicle manufacturer realizes that the product is not safe to use. In general, there are a few steps involved in a vehicle recall:
When we look at the recall website provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), we can see that many recalls include problems with airbags, tires, car seats, brakes, acceleration systems, lights, suspensions, etc.
It may seem straightforward that any vehicle crash that occurs and is caused by a defect would be the fault of the car company. However, this is not necessarily the case. Even though the vehicle company has admitted that the vehicle or a vehicle part does not meet minimum safety standards, once they have announced they recall, they shift some of the responsibility onto the vehicle’s owner.
After a vehicle owner has been notified of a recall, it is up to them to get their vehicle repaired as promptly as possible. If they fail to do so, the liability for an accident could shift partially or even wholly onto the vehicle owner for their injuries or the injuries of any other person involved in the crash.
In order to properly determine who may be financially responsible for an incident involving a recalled vehicle, an attorney will need to investigate the following:
For an example of how not responding to a recall request could affect a claim, let us suppose that a person received a warning that the gas pedal in their vehicle could get stuck and cause rapid acceleration while operating the vehicle. Suppose the notice warns the vehicle driver that this could lead to significant dangers on the roadway. Suppose a person ignores the recall for a few months and continues to operate their vehicle normally. If an accident occurs because of rapid acceleration on the roadway (caused by the recall issue), then the vehicle manufacturer may very well argue that the vehicle’s owner is liable for the incident because they failed to get the vehicle repaired promptly.
If you or somebody you care about has been injured in a vehicle accident involving a recalled vehicle, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled Tempe truck accident lawyer will be able to fully examine what happened and help determine who is liable. An attorney will be your advocate, and they will work to help ensure that you are treated fairly throughout this process.