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Can You Sue for a Vehicle Recall?

A vehicle recall can happen for any number of reasons, including defective components and improper manufacturing. Any time a manufacturing defect poses a potential safety hazard, it is in the best interest of automakers to recall and repair the issue before it causes accidents that cause injuries and deaths. When that happens automobile manufacturers can be held liable for any personal injuries, property damage, and wrongful deaths that occur.

The most recent figures revealed that 39 million vehicles and 14 million motor vehicle parts were recalled in 2019 alone. The worst years for recalls were 2014 through 2016 when General Motors and automotive supplier company Takata were embroiled in a major recall for defective airbags. In October 2021, Ram trucks, Chevy Bolts, and Ford F-150 trucks were among the vehicles subject to forced recalls by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), according to a report in Car and Driver magazine.

Unfortunately, sometimes recalls do not happen until consumers end up injured or worse, shining a light on a manufacturing flaw that previously was unknown. Worse yet, sometimes automakers know or suspect there is an issue, but do not address it right away. In 2014, Toyota admitted deceiving consumers – and regulators – about known problems that caused unintended sudden-acceleration issues. As a result, they were slapped with the largest penalty ever imposed on an auto manufacturer.

What is a vehicle recall?

Vehicle recalls can happen in one of two ways. Either the manufacturer of the automobile or the NHTSA determines the vehicle or one of its core components fails to meet minimum safety standards or creates an unreasonable safety risk. According to the NHTSA, most recalls are voluntarily issued by automakers. Whether voluntary or forced, it is complaints from consumers that prompt almost all automobile recalls.

When automakers or the NHTSA issue a vehicle recall, all owners receive a notification. The warnings usually come with information about how to remedy the issue. Most often, the solution requires taking the vehicle to the nearest authorized dealer to have the defective components replaced.

Should you drive a recalled vehicle?

That depends on why it is being recalled. Recall notices should tell drivers whether it is safe to continue operating their motor vehicle, or if they must immediately park it and wait until repairs can be made to protect their safety and that of others on the roadways. These do-not-drive warnings should be taken seriously. If you choose to operate a recalled vehicle with one of these warnings and cause an accident or injuries to others, you – not the automaker – can be held responsible.

When to sue for a recall

Most lawsuits surrounding recalls happen when a person or persons become injured or killed in automobile accidents caused by the defect. If it can be proven that the defect directly contributed to the accident, victims have a potential personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit against the automaker.

In addition to reimbursement for medical treatment and lost wages, victims also can seek compensation for the lost value of the vehicle. Auto manufacturers can face criminal charges and fines as well, like in the case of Toyota, if evidence exists that they knew of the defect and failed to issue a recall. If during the discovery process your attorney uncovers proof of such negligence, they can share that information with the appropriate agencies for a follow-up investigation.

Victims of a recalled or defective vehicle have legal rights to compensation. Consulting with an attorney skilled in personal injury law and defective product lawsuits is the first step victims can take to determine if they have a case. Call 505-750-2363 or contact us online to book in with Rom Archibeque to discuss your options.