Vehicle recalls and defects are not only an inconvenience but can also lead to serious accidents and injuries. If your car or vehicle is subject to a recall, you have certain rights as a consumer. In addition, if you were injured as a result of a vehicle defect, a product liability suit may be in order. This section provides an overview of vehicle defects and the recall process, information on your legal rights if you have a defective vehicle, and more. Here, you can also research the safety ratings and recall history of vehicles and equipment like tires and children's car seats.
When Is an Auto Recall Necessary?
Federal motor vehicle safety standards set minimum performance requirements for those parts of the vehicle that most affect its safe operation (brakes, tires) or that protect drivers and passengers from death or serious injury in the event of a crash (air bags, safety belts). These standards are applicable to all vehicles and equipment manufactured or imported for sale in the United States and certified for use on public roads and highways. A recall becomes necessary when a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment (including tires) does not comply with safety standards.
Can a Recalled Vehicle be Fixed?
Once a defect determination is made, the law gives the manufacturer three options for correcting the defect. The manufacturer may choose to repair the vehicle; replace the vehicle with an identical or similar vehicle; or refund the purchase price in full, minus a reasonable allowance for depreciation. In the case of equipment, including tires and child safety seats, the manufacturer can either repair or replace.
Your Rights: Defects, Repairs, and Lawsuits
Your have rights when it comes to your vehicle. First, check for recalls. If a defect is discovered in the design or manufacture of an automobile that affects its safety, then ir may be recalled by the manufacturer or by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This means that owners of recalled vehicles are entitled to bring their cars into dealerships and get the defective parts repaired or replaced free of charge. Consider a products liability suit claim if your car was defective when you first purchased it, causing injuries, as long as you were using the vehicle in a manner intended by the manufacturer. Unlike many other kinds of lawsuits, there is no need to show that the manufacturer acted carelessly or made any error when producing the car.
Car Emissions Recalls
The federal government requires vehicles to meet strict emission guidelines with the goal of keeping the air clean and preserving the environment. Vehicle manufacturers must design and assemble their vehicles to comply with federal emission standards throughout the duration of their use. A federal law known as the "Clean Air Act" gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to require manufacturers to recall their vehicles if they fail to meet federal emission standards. In addition, the EPA can require manufacturers to repair vehicles that do not meet emission standards.
How a Product Liability Attorney Can Help
You should discuss your case with an experienced products liability attorney if you think you have a legal claim to pursue. Do so without delay as there are time limits on when you may file a personal injury lawsuit. Want some help before committing to hiring a lawyer? You can even have a law firm evaluate the merits of your case for free.