Drivers are not always at fault in the case of an auto accident. Thanks to Ralph Nader and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), automakers can be held accountable through auto safety recalls through the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Yet, many accidents occur in Maryland and the United States every year due to factory defects.
Why Cars Get Recalled
Automakers are required to meet safety regulations set by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act. These apply to all vehicles and related parts that affect the safety and functionality of operation.
If a vehicle or its parts do not meet these standards, they may be subject to a recall by the manufacturer or the NHTSA.
Types of Defects
It is important to note the difference between safety-related defects and other defects. Auto recalls only apply to those considered safety-related and pose an unreasonable threat to motor vehicle safety, as defined by NHTSA.
Airbag failure, internal wiring errors, and weak steering components are examples of safety defects that qualify for recalls.
Consumer Rights and Protection
Consumers have a right to report possible defects to the NHTSA if they observe or suspect a safety threat. NHTSA investigates reports to confirm the presence of a safety defect that requires a recall. Once determined that an investigation is needed, the Office of Defects Investigation within the NHTSA reviews the consumer reports and petitions filed, then investigates the alleged defects.
Under the law, automobile manufacturers must consider and ensure their products’ safety. For that reason, car owners have a right to be notified when a defect is identified in their vehicle. Manufacturers must provide repairs or replacements at no additional cost to the owner or reimburse them for repairs that qualify under the recall. Refunds apply if the car is 15 years old or less, minus vehicle depreciation.
Injuries that occur due to defective vehicles or parts may grant drivers compensation in a product liability lawsuit. Liability can be affected by the timing of the recall relative to the incident.
Accidents that occur before the vehicle part or automobile was recalled could place the liability on the manufacturer for negligence. If the accident occurs after the recall, and the owner failed to act upon it promptly, the auto company may be less liable for damages.
Product Liability Claims
To regulate the relationship between producers and consumers, product liability can hold the manufacturer responsible for damages caused by safety defects. Recovered defective parts or pieces after an accident could be evidence in product liability cases.
Proving that the parts in question are defective is an essential part of a product liability case. The plaintiff must show that the defect was to blame for the injury or made the vehicle unreasonably dangerous.
Both design defects, which occur in the design stages of production, and marketing defects, which imply a failure of the seller, manufacturer, or distributor to communicate risk, could create liability. The plaintiff may sue for damages after identifying the defendants.
Collecting Damages for Car Accident Victims
Liability is not assumed and will require the victim to prove that the defective part or vehicle caused the accident. On the other hand, the manufacturers could prove that the driver was at fault for neglecting a recall notice.
Attorney John Yannone of Price Benowitz LLP, suggests that “Drivers seeking to collect damages from an auto safety recall should do so as soon as possible, as Maryland’s statute of limitations is three years of the date of the incident.”