Ignored Vehicle Recalls Cause Accidents

Some owners of recalled cars are unaware of the recall announcement or ignore it and do not get their vehicles repaired. Hundreds of thousands of such cars are being driven every day and often are the cause of accidents. In fact, about one-third of vehicles that are recalled do not get repaired. Therefore, it is essential for owners of a recalled car to be aware of the recall so that the car is properly repaired, thus avoiding a potential accident.

It is not uncommon for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue recalls of cars that have shown to be defective and that have caused accidents. The NHTSA recalls provide the reason for the recall, the year and make of the car being recalled, and the manufacturer of the car and urge that owners bring the car to their local dealer’s service department for repairs.

Example Of Recalled Car Not Repaired That Caused An Accident

There are a number of examples of unrepaired recalled vehicles causing accidents.

For example, in Indianapolis, Indiana, in March of this year the owner of a 2008 Pontiac G6 left it to talk to a friend. His 3-year old daughter subsequently got out of the car after it rolled into a retention pond at an apartment complex. The owner jumped into the pond, grabbed his daughter and handed her to a bystander who had jumped into the water to help. The owner then slipped under the water, was later pulled from it and died at a hospital.

The Pontiac G6 involved in this accident was part of an auto recall.

NHTSA had recalled the car on April 30, 2014 because there was a chance that it could roll away, even if the light that indicated the vehicle was in park was on. The recall included 2007 and 2008 Saturn Aura vehicles, 2004 – 2008 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles, 2004 – 2007 Malibu vehicles, and 2005 – 2008 Pontiac G6 vehicles. The recall announcement resulted in more than 1,131,113 cars being brought to the service departments of local General Motors’ dealers for repair.

The auto recall announcement also included a detailed description of the problem. According to the document, if the transmission shift cable fractures while the vehicle is being driven, the transmission gear selection may not match the indicated gear and the vehicle may move in an unintended or unexpected direction, increasing the risk of an auto accident. The document said further that when the driver goes to stop and park the vehicle, despite selecting the PARK position, the transmission might not be in PARK.  If the vehicle is not actually in the PARK position, there is a risk the vehicle will roll away as the driver and other occupants exit the vehicle or anytime thereafter.

The announcement said that General Motors would notify owners of the cars in question and that GM dealers will replace the shift cable assembly and mounting bracket, free of charge.

For whatever reason, the owner of the Pontiac G6 was either unaware of the recall or ignored it and that ultimately led to his death.

Common Defects That Trigger An Auto Recall

Since 1966 when NHTSA began auto recalls, more than 299 million cars, trucks, buses, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, and mopeds have been recalled. Moreover, items other than vehicles have been subject to recalls. They include 43 million tires and 84 million motor vehicle parts, including child seats.

An auto recall is called when a motor vehicle or part of a motor vehicle does not comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and/or if there is a safety-related defect in the vehicle or vehicle part.

Defects that result in auto recalls include:

  • • Airbags that do not deploy, deploy when they shouldn’t, or deploy with too much or too little force
  • • Seatbelts that don’t remain fastened during an accident
  • • Roofs that collapse during a rollover auto accident
  • • Electric systems that causes fires
  • • Sudden acceleration
  • • Brake failure
  • • Failure of the power steering
  • • Tire explosions or improper tire tread wear
  • • Windshield wiper assemblies that fail to operate properly
  • • Wheels that break causing a loss of control of the vehicle.

Automobile or equipment manufacturers will issue a voluntary recall or NHTSA will investigate complaints submitted by vehicle owners and issue recalls. Manufacturers are required to notify owners of the vehicle or equipment in question by first-class mail, provide an analysis of the risk to vehicle safety, and explain the safety hazards caused by the defect.

The manufacturer is then given three options to respond to the recall –- repair the vehicle or product, replace the vehicle or product or refund the purchase price of the vehicle or product.


The Car Owner Is Responsible To Comply With An Auto Recall

An owner of a recalled vehicle may not receive proper notification from the manufacturer and may be unaware of the recall. It is therefore up to you to determine if your vehicle has been recalled. If you receive the proper notification from the manufacturer, then you should take your vehicle to the manufacturer’s local dealer for a repair.

To determine if your vehicle has been recalled, check with NHTSA. It has an extensive database that provides information on all vehicles it has recalled. In addition, the NHTSA website also offers an RSS feed that you can subscribe to to receive email or reader updates on new recalls.

If you get into an auto accident due to a defective part that has not been recalled, the manufacturer may be liable for injuries and damages that result from the accident.

Auto accident law firms in Georgia suggest that you keep all evidence of the accident including anything that will support a claim or assist in proving that a defective car part caused the accident. You are also advised to take photos of the auto accident scene including the damaged vehicle and any injuries. If you can’t do this, ask a person who was in your vehicle to do it.

Auto accident law firms in Georgia also advise that you don’t get the vehicle repaired until you have hired a Georgia auto accidents lawyer. The attorney must inspect the vehicle, defects and all.

In addition, a personal injury lawyer would advise that you talk to an attorney before communicating with your insurance company. The attorney will deal with the insurance firm and the automobile’s manufacturer for you. It is advised that you do not deal with the manufacturer yourself.

To file a vehicle safety complaint with NHTSA visit the administration’s vehicle safety complaint page.

An auto accident can be a very complex situation. There are a plethora of issues that need to be addressed. We have a staff of attorneys with the experience and expertise to handle these issues of law to assure a favorable result to your case. Please contact us at the Eichholz Law Firm for assistance.