When a recalled car or truck causes an accident, liability may extend to the owner of the vehicle, the car dealership, and the vehicle manufacturer as well. Sometimes it can be challenging to determine who is legally at fault for a collision. Still, the good news is that New York and New Jersey car accident attorneys typically provide free consultations to explore your options following serious injury. The best lawyers work with investigators and respected experts to uncover what happened and who is responsible.

Is the driver liable after a recalled motor vehicle crash?

A recall occurs when a government agency or manufacturer observes a defect, pervasive safety issue, or failure to meet basic standards in a product like a motor vehicle. Once a recall is announced, vehicle owners are typically notified by mail with a full explanation of the defect and risk. The company agrees to replace the faulty parts at no charge to vehicle owners, usually by returning the vehicle to the dealership where it was purchased.

The trouble is: nearly a third of recalled vehicles never get repaired because the owners worry about repair upsells, can’t afford to be without a car, or have uncertainty over the importance of the repair. No one can compel a person to fix a dangerous vehicle. However, the failure to initiate repairs after knowing of the safety hazard can put the driver at risk of liability.

When is the manufacturer liable for a recalled vehicle’s accident?

Vehicle manufacturers are responsible for designing and creating vehicles that are safe to use. In some cases, manufacturers have sent recall notifications but failed to provide the dealers with the necessary parts to complete the repairs. This is a clear case of manufacturer liability.

Even if the manufacturer fully repairs, replaces, or refunds a recalled vehicle, you can still file a product liability lawsuit– if the vehicle defect was the direct cause of an accident. On the other hand, if you knew about the recall but continued to drive after the fact, you may be able to recover some compensation with the help of car accident lawyers, but not the maximum. 

Is my car dealer liable for my recalled car accident?

Sometimes a dealership can be liable for recalled car or truck accidents. Federal law prohibits new car dealers from selling unrepaired recalled vehicles. In some states, it may be illegal to sell a used car with unrepaired recalled parts. Other states may allow a dealer to sell a recalled vehicle, so long as the new owner is notified and allowed to initiate repairs themselves. Dealers can also face liability if they refuse to honor a recall.

What to do if your crashed vehicle was recalled

A recall– while valuable evidence– is not an automatic presumption of guilt or liability for a particular accident. Plaintiffs must establish certain facts of the case in court– notably that the crash and injuries were directly related to a known hazard. Auto manufacturers often hire strong legal defense lawyers to point out when the recall notice was sent, prove that the vehicle owner was sufficiently warned of the dangers, and assumed responsibility for any hazards arising from driving an unrepaired vehicle.

What to do if your vehicle was not recalled, but you suspect a product liability issue

If you noted a vehicle defect before the crash, you could contact the NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Hotline. You can also “file a complaint” under the “defects and recalls” section at www.SaferCar.gov. Sending a written complaint to the Office of Defects Investigation is yet another step you can take. While reporting your vehicle can lead to a safety recall and protect others, it will not pay for your medical bills or lost wages. For that, you will need to contact a personal injury attorney with product liability experience.

Call Car Accident Lawyers in New York or New Jersey for a free consultation

Contact Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, to connect with an experienced car accident lawyer in Rockland County, NY or Bergen County, NJ. Our team has experience successfully litigating against manufacturers like Honda, Hyundai, and GM for recalled vehicles. Consultations are always free. A legal fee is payable upon the successful resolution of the case.