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Car Recalls and Your Rights

Compared to buying a microwave oven, purchasing a car is a big decision. Yet, at their core, appliances and vehicles are both simply products made for human consumption -- and any product can be recalled because it is either defective or potentially harmful. Some automotive recalls affect the entire car, while others involve replaceable equipment such as bulbs, floor mats or seat belts. It’s not a surprise that things can go wrong, given the number of parts that go into constructing a car, but sometimes the issue is significant enough to raise major safety concerns – and result in major accidents.

A safety recall involving a motor vehicle or an item of motor vehicle equipment can be independently conducted by a manufacturer or ordered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). So many recalls were issued last year that at least three major automakers set all-time records for most vehicles recalled in a single year in the United States. More than 63.5 million vehicles were recalled in 800 separate campaigns, which was more than twice the previous record set back in 2004.

The fact that a car was recalled does not necessarily mean that it was ever repaired, which is a substantial risk to consumers. The NHTSA estimates that only 70 percent of recalled vehicles ever get the necessary repairs. Whether the owner never got notification, chose to ignore it, or was not the car’s original owner, the responsibility to check for any recalls rests with them. An online tool provided by the NHTSA offers direct access to the recall database of major vehicle manufacturers. Furthermore, the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) can also be used to discover whether a specific vehicle has not been repaired as part of a safety recall in the last 15 years.

If you do discover that your car has been recalled for any reason, you should get it fixed. According to the NHTSA, there is no time limit on when vehicle owners can get free repairs for safety-related recalls. While a recall may offer repair, replacement or refund, no recall covers any injuries you or your loved ones sustained in an accident that was caused by the faulty part. If you’ve already been involved in a car accident caused by a recalled defect, it’s important to consult an attorney to find out if you have missed the legal time limit on how long after an injury or accident you can bring a claim for damages.

In the news recently have been reports of approximately 100 injuries and eight deaths from defective Takata airbags, which are installed in over 19 million cars. Countless injuries and over 120 deaths have been linked to the failures of ignition key switches found on over two million General Motors cars. And over 1.5 million Chrysler Jeeps were recalled after the NHTSA blamed the gas tanks in at least 37 accidents that caused fires and resulted in at least 51 deaths.

Current recalls include:

  • 2014-2015 Ram 1500 Quad Cab trucks because the side air bag may deploy improperly
  • 2005 Buick LaCrosse vehicles and 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix vehicles because the headlights might fail
  • 2014 Jeep Cherokee vehicles because the windshield wipers might fail
  • 2012-2015 Nissan Versa sedan vehicles and 2014-2015 Nissan Versa Note vehicles because the lower trim panel can affect pedal operation.

At Stabinski & Funt, P.A., we have successfully represented victims throughout Florida who have been seriously hurt by defective products. We have also assisted families who have lost loved ones to defective cars and trucks. For over 45 years, we have been helping injured consumers put their lives back on track, and we are ready to help you. For advice on how to proceed next, or if you have any questions about this topic, call 305-643-3100 or fill out a free case evaluation form.

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