Millions of vehicles remain on the road in the United States that have been recalled by their manufacturers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 35,092 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2015 — a 7.2 percent increase from 2014. Over 2.4 million others were injured.
In 1966, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was established. It gave the NHTSA authority to set safety standards for vehicles and compel manufacturers to recall vehicles that have dangerous defects or don’t meet appropriate safety specifications. Some recalls are brought voluntarily by manufacturers, while others might be required by the NHTSA. Should a safety defect be found by a manufacturer, it is required to notify the NHTSA accordingly. This became a major issue in recalls of millions of vehicles in the United States. Most of these recalls involved airbags, ignition switches, and restraint systems. Recalled vehicles must be repaired by the manufacturer at no cost to the consumer, regardless of whether the vehicle was purchased new or used. The general rule is that vehicles can’t be more than 10 years old from the date of initial purchase, or the date that any failure to comply is determined.
What Is a Safety Defect?
The U.S. Code for Motor Vehicle Safety Act 49 USC Chapter 301 defines motor vehicle safety as: the performance of a motor vehicle or vehicle equipment in a way that protects the public against the unreasonable risk of injury or death. A defect can be in “the performance, construction, a component, or material of a motor vehicle.” It can also involve motor vehicle equipment like tires or a jack.
When the NHTSA Decides That a Safety Defect Exists
Should the NHTSA make a determination that a safety-related defect exists in a vehicle, it can order the manufacturer to take remedial measures. The manufacturer has every right to contest that decision in federal court. Likewise, the NHTSA can file an action asking the court to compel compliance with its order. In either case, the NHTSA has the burden of proving the defect
Most vehicle recalls are indeed voluntary, and without the necessity of the NHTSA becoming involved. The manufacturer must report discovery of a safety-related defect to the NHTSA. Then it’s required to take appropriate remedial measures.
If a Dealer Refuses to Remedy Your Vehicle
If you’re advised that your vehicle has been recalled, and the dealer refuses to remedy the defect, you should immediately notify the manufacturer. The manufacturer and the dealer are almost always under contract with each other, and just about all of the manufacturer’s dealers are required to comply with recalls, regardless of where the vehicle was purchased.
If you are the owner of an affected vehicle, a recall isn’t your sole and exclusive remedy. Other legal remedies might be available and you could exercise them, but you should consult with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer first to determine the remedies that might be available to you.
Your vehicle could have been recalled, and you might not even be aware, or you could have been injured in a crash as a result of a vehicle defect and want compensation for your damages. Go to www.safercar.gov to learn more about recalled vehicles or equipment. After that, feel free to contact an attorney with any questions that you might have about a recalled vehicle.