Although many car accidents are attributed to negligence, impaired and distracted driving, or even poor weather conditions, dozens of collisions are caused by defective vehicles. When design flaws go unchecked, or lax manufacturing protocols cause defects, the potential for serious injury and death increases.
Voluntary recalls are one method that auto manufacturers employ to rectify defective or dangerous parts. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2015 was a milestone year for automotive recalls, with millions of vehicles affected. The Takata airbag recall alone affected more than 70 million vehicles with frontal airbags made between 2002 and 2008. NHTSA officials dubbed it “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.” As of 2016, more than 150 injuries and at least 11 deaths have been caused by defective Takata inflators that spray metal shards throughout the vehicle cabin.
Notable auto recalls
Safety advocates who are well-versed in defective part recalls lay the blame squarely on automakers, many of which had ample information yet failed to respond to early reports of problems. In 2014, General Motors shelled out a whopping $35 million to settle a federal investigation into the delay of its infamous ignition switch recall which affected millions of vehicles worldwide. The faulty ignition switch could cause cars to suddenly lose power, and has been blamed for some 124 fatalities.
After an incriminatory internal audit revealed that GM was aware of safety problems since 2001, the company set up a settlement fund to compensate injured parties. But a separate GM ignition switch recall in 2014 has triggered a wave of product liability lawsuits alleging injury and death.
When vehicle parts and manufacturing do not meets Federal safety standards, the NHTSA can order auto manufacturers to issue recalls. Unfortunately, by the time a vehicle recall is initiated and consumers are notified, thousands of car owners may have already suffered serious injury or lost a loved one.
Vehicle defects and safety concerns
The NHTSA outlines safety-related auto defects to be aware of:
- Steering parts that suddenly break, causing loss of control
- Air bags that deploy incorrectly
- Problems with fuel system tanks and components, such as leaks or susceptibility to explosion in a rear-end collision
- Seats that fail unexpectedly during normal use
- Accelerator controls that stick or break
- Engine cooling fan blades that unexpectedly break
- Wiring system defects
- Defective safety belts or components in child safety seats
2016 automotive recalls
This year has seen its fair share of auto defect recalls. Chrysler recently recalled 359 Jeep Wranglers (model year 2017) for defects in the fuel tank that can cause a leak if the vehicle rolls over. Toyota recalled more than 740,000 2016 Sienna minivans after it was discovered that the power sliding doors could suddenly open while the vehicle was in motion.
When defective auto parts cause injury, death or loss, victims may have grounds for filing a product liability lawsuit in pursuit of monetary damages. To learn more about your legal options in New Jersey or New York, we invite you to contact the law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman for a free consultation.
- Fortune, The Takata Airbag Recall Is Now a Full-Blown Crisis http://fortune.com/2016/06/10/the-takata-airbag-recall-is-now-a-full-blown-crisis/
- CNN Money, GM: Steps to a recall nightmare http://money.cnn.com/infographic/pf/autos/gm-recall-timeline/