blog home Product Liability How Auto Recalls Save Lives

How Auto Recalls Save Lives

By Jason Bottlinger on May 14, 2021

Getting letters or emails from your dealership about an auto recall may seem like an inconvenience, but these simple documents include important information. Recalls warn drivers about safety defects in their vehicles that can lead to serious injuries. Unfortunately, it often takes more than one collision for companies to issue recalls.

When Is a Recall Necessary?

Recalls are only necessary when a car’s parts or systems present a danger to drivers and passengers. This may be a major issue, like the 2009 Toyota accelerator defects or the Takata airbags that suddenly deployed, both of which were likely to cause a fatal collision. There are also less serious but still dangerous issues like headlights that shine too brightly or poorly designed seats that may suddenly decline.

Over the past few decades, we’ve seen recalls for:

  • Accelerators that stick to the floor
  • Brakes that fail at certain speeds
  • Airbags that suddenly deploy or fail to deploy
  • Electrical wiring that can cause compartment fires
  • Defective springs that can puncture tires

When Are Recalls Issued?

Two groups can issue a recall: the car’s manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In most cases, the manufacturer notices a defective part during an internal review after the car has been released to the public and voluntarily issues a recall to local dealerships, which will contact car owners about the issue.

In other cases, safety defects are identified by drivers, dealerships, and mechanics who issue a complaint to the NHTSA. The NHTSA will then review and log any issues online to warn other drivers and initiate the recall process with the manufacturer. The NHTSA also monitors safety recalls and oversees the process to ensure drivers can get their vehicles fixed in a timely manner.

How Do I Know If My Vehicle Has a Recall?

If you haven’t received a recall by mail or email from your car dealership but are still worried about your vehicle, you can search recalls online through the NHTSA. The NHTSA allows you to search by your vehicle identification number (VIN), which is located on your car’s registration, insurance card, or car payment. (It can usually be found on the bottom of your inside driver’s side door.) You can also search by vehicle model and look up car seats and tires.

What If a Safety Defect Causes a Wreck?

The goal of a recall is to prevent serious injuries, but many injuries still occur before a defect is identified and a recall is issued. Defective brakes, steering wheels, and accelerators can lead to catastrophic collisions, sometimes through no fault of the drivers involved. While you may still be able to recover compensation through an auto accident claim against the at-fault driver, you may also be eligible to file an auto product liability claim if a defective auto part caused your trauma.

After a collision, it is important to review all of the details with an experienced attorney. At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., we can investigate the nature of your collision with an accident reconstructionist and determine if a defective auto part is responsible for your injuries. This will require an in-depth review of your car’s maintenance history, a look at the manufacturer’s history of recalls, and a review of similar cases. If a safety defect caused your injuries, you may be able to file a claim with the manufacturer for full compensation. To discuss your options in a free consultation, call Bottlinger Law L.L.C. at (402) 505-8234 to speak to an experienced Omaha product liability attorney.

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