Recall Notices And Car Accidents
Modern automobiles should be manufactured in complete compliance with strict safety standards. Thanks to technological advancements, motor vehicles created today are safer than ever before. However, recall notices and car accidents caused by vehicle defects and mechanical failures are still common occurrences in the United States. In 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced 886 recalls involving nearly 55 million vehicles as well as their parts and components. When a motorist is injured in a car crash involving a recalled vehicle, he or she might wonder what legal remedies are available. Depending on the circumstances, a motorist might be able to pursue a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. At Labrum Law, our experienced car accident attorneys help victims across Tennessee investigate accidents and seek the compensation to which they are entitled. We also handle cases involving defective vehicles or automobile parts and components. Call (615) 338-9500 to schedule a consultation.
Understanding Vehicle Recalls
Vehicle recalls are necessary when design or manufacturing errors make automobiles unsafe for consumers. In most cases, automakers issue recall notices when:
- The vehicle or its parts do not comply with safety standards established by federal law
- The vehicle or its equipment has safety-related defects
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) implements minimum safety requirements to ensure that motor vehicles and their parts and components are reasonably safe for consumers. Federal safety standards are designed to protect motorists, their passengers, and all people around them. FMVSS set forth safety requirements that apply to all automobiles and vehicle-related parts, components, and accessories manufactured in the United States or imported from foreign countries for sale in the United States.
How Do Manufacturers Notify Vehicle Owners of Recalls?
Those who have concerns about recall notices and car accidents may wonder how automakers notify vehicle owners of defects and recalls. If a vehicle owner has registered his or her automobile, the manufacturer will typically notify the owner of recalls by sending a letter in the mail. The law requires automakers to notify vehicle owners of recalled cars and vehicle-related equipment. However, vehicle owners may miss recall notices if they do not update their mailing address in the vehicle registration. In order to send a recall notice, automobile manufacturers use their purchase records and vehicle registration records obtained from state governments.
When automakers recall vehicle equipment, they must issue recall notices to all parties in the chain of distribution and all known purchasers of such equipment. Regardless of whether a recall is ordered by the NHTSA or is a result of an independent safety recall conducted by the automaker, the vehicle manufacturer must prepare and file a public report detailing the defect. Vehicle manufacturers have 60 days to notify vehicle owners by mail. The clock starts ticking from the date they notify the NHTSA of the recall decision. Owners who purchased a used vehicle or a vehicle through a third party may not receive a recall notice.
How to Check If a Vehicle Has a Recall
A motorist not receiving recall notices from the automaker is no guarantee that the vehicle or its parts have not been recalled. This is especially true for motorists who have purchased used cars. Fortunately, there is a way someone who is not the first owner to check if a vehicle has a recall. The NHTSA website allows motorists to check for potential recalls and safety issues with their vehicles by entering the vehicle's 17-character vehicle identification number (VIN).
The problem with recall notices and car accidents is that a motorist involved in a car crash may not know whether he or she is entitled to compensation if the accident was the result of a recalled part or vehicle. Car accident cases with recalled vehicles involve complex legal nuances, which is why many motorists consider contacting an attorney to explore their legal options. At Labrum Law, our knowledgeable car accident attorneys handle all types of claims stemming from motor vehicle accidents in Tennessee, including those that involve recalls.
How Do Recall Notices Affect Car Accident Claims?
Many motorists mistakenly believe that a recall notice automatically entitles them to financial compensation. Instead, a recall notice can be an important piece of evidence for a potential product liability case after a car accident. Whether or not a motorist can file a lawsuit against the vehicle's manufacturer, seller, or other parties in the chain of distribution depends on the circumstances of the motorist's case. In most cases, automakers can be held liable for car accidents if they issue a safety recall after a car accident has occurred. For example, the manufacturer may issue a recall after the fact, admitting that the vehicle or its parts did not meet safety standards.
However, if the car crash occurred after the automaker issued a recall, filing a product liability claim becomes more difficult. Manufacturers shift the responsibility for future accidents to vehicle owners when they issue a vehicle recall. If the motorist did not have the vehicle repaired according to the manufacturer's instructions in the recall notice, that motorist could be held liable for any resulting damages and losses. However, potential liability for car accidents after a recall depends on various factors, including:
- Whether or not the vehicle owner received a recall notice
- When the owner received the notice
- Whether or not the notice provided clear instructions and adequately warned the owner of the vehicle's safety issues
- Whether or not the owner did anything to comply with the recall
What to Do After a Car Accident Involving a Recalled Vehicle
If someone is injured in a car crash caused by a mechanical defect, determining liability for the accident can be a challenging task. It is vital for the motorist to collect and preserve all evidence supporting a potential product liability claim. In order to determine liability, a vehicle owner may find it helpful to consult with an experienced car accident attorney. At Labrum Law, we handle car accidents involving recalls in Tennessee. We have the necessary expertise and resources to fight for our clients' legal rights and are prepared to litigate even the most complex cases. Consider speaking with our attorneys to discuss recall notices and car accidents and potential liability for the crash in your particular case. Call (615) 338-9500 to schedule a free case review.