Before discussing common auto recalls, it is helpful to first understand what product recalls are and how they work. A product recall is what occurs when the majority of the product becomes unsafe to use.
Either a government agency or the manufacturer will alert the public, recommending those who have purchased the product to take a particular action in order to ensure their safety while using the product. The Consumer Product Safety Act specifically protects consumers from exposure to products that could create an unreasonable risk of injury to the user.
Product recalls provide a way for manufacturers of companies to remove the product that is causing the problem or injury, as well as offer a remedy to the injured parties. The government plays a significant role in both administering this process and mandating some product recalls of their own. Government agencies are intended to ensure that the products with defective design are immediately recalled in order to warn the customers of their defects.
The following government agencies have been granted the authority to require a product recall:
- The Consumer Product Safety Commission;
- The Food and Drug Administration;
- The Food Safety and Inspection Services;
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration;
- The Coast Guard; and
- The Environmental Protection Agency.
In terms of the rules regarding product recalls, those differ among the government agencies.
Once a product has been recalled by either a governmental agency or the manufacturer, the manufacturer will need to take specific actions. Some examples of such actions include, but may not be limited to:
- Contacting their regulators;
- Notifying their insurers; and
- Seeking legal counseling in order to evaluate the company’s liability exposure, as well as their financial stability.
An example of this would be how a manufacturer may draft a plan for paying a certain amount of money in settlements to those injured by the products. However, the plan would serve a better purpose if created prior to recalling a specific defective product from the market. Doing so allows for a way to adequately warn the consumers, as well as limit exposure to greater liability.
For the manufacturer or other liable parties, there are legal consequences to recalling the defective product. Doing so can establish grounds for a class action lawsuit after an issuance of a product recall. And, a simple recall for the defective product may not be sufficient for the government agency who ordered the recall.
What Are Some Common Auto Recalls?
Auto recalls may also be referred to as car recalls. As previously mentioned, they occur when a vehicle manufacturer pulls their product from production and distribution because of some sort of vehicle defect.
Generally speaking, these defects are associated with some sort of product safety issue. However, they may also be initiated for other reasons, such as warning label defects or issues with the vehicle’s overall design.
Federal motor vehicle safety standards set the minimum performance requirements for those parts of vehicles that will most likely affect the operation of a vehicle. Anything associated with the protection of the drivers and passengers safety must meet the minimum requirements set by Federal motor safety standards.
As such, the recall of a vehicle becomes necessary when:
- The vehicle or car part does not comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard; and
- There is a safety related defect in the vehicle equipment.
In general, an automobile recall is only associated with a specific part or mechanism of the vehicle, rather than the entire vehicle itself. A motor vehicle defect generally refers only to those flaws which create safety hazards, or that may result in the injury of the operator or passengers. Aesthetic flaws such as a botched paint job or a misplaced decal are generally not the subject of a vehicle defects claim.
Some examples common subjects of auto recalls include, but may not be limited to:
- Faulty brakes, tires, or wheels;
- Defects associated with front and side airbags;
- Issues involving engine parts;
- Overheating and other similar technical defects;
- Electrical and internal computer defects; and
- Issues with parts “sticking,” such as a gas pedal constantly getting stuck.
If a vehicle is found to be defective in any way, the manufacturer will generally issue a recall in order to alert the public that the vehicle or part is being recalled. This can be accomplished through:
- News reports;
- Newspaper listings;
- Websites; and
- Other means of notice, such as contacting dealerships who have sold the vehicle.
Certain types of newer automobile technologies may be more subject to recalls than older, more established models. Examples of this include:
- Electric vehicles;
- Hybrid cars;
- Alternative fuel automobiles; and
- Smartcars and smaller urban vehicles.
It is important to note that the term “car defects” can be used to refer to any faults in a motor vehicle which are a result of the actions of the vehicle’s manufacturer. In terms of defect claims, the term “motor vehicle” can include:
- Buses; and
What Should I Do If I Have Been Injured By a Defective Car Or Car Part?
Many auto recalls are initiated because a consumer was injured due to a defect with the vehicle. If you have been injured prior to an auto recall being issued, you should begin by reporting your case.
From there, you may need to file a claim with several different entities. This could include:
- The vehicle’s manufacturer;
- The distributor or dealer who sold the vehicle to you;
- A mechanic, if the defect was due to faulty repairs, especially when the repairs were obtained at the dealership;
- Your insurance company; and/or
- The court, if you wish to file a lawsuit.
As previously mentioned, many auto recalls result in class action lawsuits if it is found that the defect has affected or injured large groups of people. Class action lawsuits can result in large settlements, depending on the circumstances and facts of each specific case.
If your vehicle or part of your vehicle is recalled, the manufacturer is required by federal law to notify all registered owners and purchasers by first class mail. This must be done by using state vehicle registration information in order to locate the owners. Additionally, the vehicle manufacturer must provide all registered owners and purchasers with a free solution to the problem.
If you have purchased a car that has recently been recalled, you may be entitled to several different types of legal remedies.
Some examples include, but may not be limited to:
- Economic damages, such as the lost value of the car’s resale value, or for loss of use of the car;
- Personal injury recovery; and
- Manufacturer reimbursement, such as being compensated for repairs or for a replacement vehicle.
It is important to note that the specific laws associated with products liability will vary from state to state. Additionally, each automobile manufacturer may have different policies which would be stated in their warranty provisions. As such, you may need to contact a car recall lawyer in order to determine your recovery options. If a defective condition was discovered upon purchase, you should notify the manufacturer or a government agency as soon as possible. If a recall has not yet been issued, the information you provide may initiate a recall.
Do I Need An Attorney For Common Auto Recalls?
If your vehicle is being recalled, or you have been affected by a defective auto part, you should consult with an experienced and local car accident lawyer. They will be aware of any class action lawsuits you may be able to join.
An attorney will be best suited to helping you understand your state’s specific laws regarding the matter, and can provide you with relevant legal advice. Your attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as needed.