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What if My Crash Was Due to a Recalled Vehicle?

August 15, 2022

Most crashes are caused by human error, negligence or reckless behavior. However, there could be other factors, such as an ignored vehicle recall, that either contributed to a crash or made it more serious.

Hundreds of vehicles are recalled each year across the U.S. for various reasons. From a defective airbag that fails to deploy or unintentional acceleration that leads to a crash, an ignored vehicle recall could cause serious harm.

Learn more about vehicle recalls, including why these claims are challenging, who may be liable and how a qualified attorney may benefit your claim.

At Bernstein & Poisson, we are deeply committed to helping each injury victim we represent, and we always seek maximum compensation. Submit your request for a free case review today.

How Could an Ignored Vehicle Recall Cause a Crash?

When you buy a car, you have a right to expect that it is mechanically sound and safe to operate. However, this is not always the case. There are many stories of crashes or injuries caused by defective parts. For instance, drivers who placed their vehicle in “Park” only to have it roll away unexpectedly and crash into another person, object or vehicle.

Regardless of what auto part is deemed defective, vehicle recalls are generally only issued when there is a serious safety problem.

These are some of the most common reasons for vehicle recalls. Any one of these defective vehicle components could contribute to a crash or increase the severity of the crash victim’s injuries:

  • Seat belts that fail to stay fastened during an accident
  • Airbags that fail to deploy properly, deploy with too much force or do not deploy at all
  • Brakes that fail during a crash resulting in greater force at impact and more severe injuries
  • Power steering failures
  • Unintentional and unexpected acceleration
  • Wiring or other electrical components that ignite a fire
  • Defective or faulty tires that burst or explode without warning
  • Vehicle roof collapsing during a rollover crash

Who Could Be Liable if an Ignored Vehicle Recall Causes a Crash?

If an investigation shows that a vehicle recall contributed to or caused your crash, there could be multiple parties liable for the damages.

The At-Fault Driver

If another driver’s negligence led to the crash, you could have a valid third-party claim against his or her insurance.

The Manufacturer

If the involved vehicle had a defective part, the manufacturer could be liable. However, you or your attorney would first need to prove several things.

For instance, was there evidence that the manufacturer knew or should have known about the defect and if so, had a recall been properly issued? Additionally, your attorney will need to prove that the failed part contributed to the crash in some way or increased the severity of your injuries.

Car Owner Who Ignored Vehicle Recall

A claim can get more complicated if one of the drivers involved in the crash was driving a car with an ignored vehicle recall.

If the victim owned the car and had received notice of a vehicle recall, he or she could be partially liable for the crash and his or her injuries. However, even if the victim does share some fault, he or she could still have a valid claim as long as he or she is not 51 percent or more at fault.

If the vehicle with the ignored recall was owned by someone else, that vehicle’s owner could share liability for any damages sustained in the crash. For instance, if someone loaned you his or her car, and that car had an outstanding vehicle recall.

As you can see, these crashes are complicated and challenging to prove. This is just one reason that you could greatly benefit from having a knowledgeable attorney handle your claim.

Our Las Vegas-based auto accident lawyers know what evidence is needed to prove these claims and how to build a strong case on your behalf.

Does a Vehicle Recall Mean I Automatically Have a Case?

No, a vehicle recall does not automatically mean you have a valid case or make you eligible for compensation. As with any claim, a case for negligence still has to be made, and that burden of proof falls on the victim (plaintiff in the case).

Even though the involved vehicle may have a defective or recalled auto part, it does not necessarily mean it caused the crash or your injuries. There are multiple other considerations that could impact your claim.

Your attorney would need to learn more about the vehicle recall, such as whether:

  • A vehicle recall had been issued
  • If and when the owner knew about the recall
  • The vehicle recall notice was sufficiently informative
  • The vehicle recall was ignored
  • The recall was recent and the owner did not yet have time to repair it
  • The recall was such that continuing to drive the vehicle was dangerous

Additionally, your attorney will also need to investigate and determine whether others may be liable for your crash and any damages you sustained.

What is My Responsibility if I Get a Vehicle Recall Notice?

Drivers are responsible for maintaining their vehicles, which includes getting any repairs needed to keep it operating safely. Handling a vehicle recall is part of that responsibility.

If you receive a vehicle recall notice you should immediately:

Read the Vehicle Recall Notice Completely

If you get a vehicle recall notice, it is important that you take it seriously and read it fully to find out:

  • Information about the recalled vehicle, equipment or other auto part
  • Details about the design, defect or noncompliance issue
  • Any other background information about what led to the recall
  • What remedy or repair is needed to resolve the recall
  • Whether you can continue driving until you repair the recalled part or parts
  • How you can get the defective part repaired or replaced, and where

Get the Vehicle Recall Repaired or Replaced

The good news is that getting the vehicle-recalled part repaired or replaced will not cost you any money. The dealer or manufacturer should provide this service at no charge to you.

Drivers who fail to repair a vehicle recall within a reasonable time can be held liable if an accident occurs. This is especially true if the recalled part contributed to the crash and if the driver had a reasonable amount of time to get the repairs done.

Where Can You Find Out if a Vehicle Was Recalled?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or a vehicle manufacturer may decide that a vehicle recall is necessary. This decision is made when either the NHTSA or a vehicle manufacturer determines a vehicle, or any of its parts, creates a safety risk.

Manufacturers must attempt to notify all registered owners or buyers of a recalled vehicle. Notification must be sent by first class mail within 60 days of a vehicle recall decision.

Vehicle owners can also check for recalls on a vehicle anytime using the NHTSA website. If you drive an older vehicle or failed to inform your car dealer of any address changes, it is a good idea to check regularly. You can do a vehicle recall check on any vehicle if you have the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

You can locate your vehicle’s VIN on your registration card or on the lower left portion of your windshield.

Did a Vehicle Recall Cause Your Crash? Call Our Firm for Legal Help

If another driver’s negligence led to your crash, including if he or she ignored a vehicle recall, you should seek legal help right away. Evidence of your crash is easiest to obtain during the early days following the incident. Additionally, there are deadlines for filing a claim. Waiting too long to call an attorney could limit your ability to recover any damages.

We offer a no-risk, completely free case review to help you find out if you have a valid claim. You can get answers to your questions and discuss your situation with one of our qualified attorneys. We have a strong history of results, recovering over $100 million in compensation for our clients. Call our firm any time, night or day, to learn more.

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