Auto manufacturer recalls affect millions of vehicles in the United States. Too often, these vehicles also cause accidents. When an auto recall occurs, it can create complex legal issues. If your car is recalled, or even if you’re hurt by a defective vehicle, you might wonder about your rights.
Our attorneys for recall lawsuits explain making claims on auto manufacturer recalls.
Making a claim on auto manufacturer recalls depends on the exact circumstances involved in the case. Your options hinge on what the vehicle defect is, and whether the vehicle is subject to a total recall. In addition, your legal options depend on whether an accident has occurred and if you have suffered injuries.
Rights If Your Vehicle is Recalled
If your vehicle is recalled, you have your choice of a repair, replacement or refund. The car manufacturer must provide a timely repair. Sometimes, parts are not always available to conduct repairs immediately. In addition, if the vehicle is subject to total recall, the car manufacturer must refund the value of the vehicle minus depreciation or replace the vehicle. These rights are in addition to any rights that may be available for defective manufacturing, design defect or breach of warranty of merchantability available under state common laws or statutory laws.
Can I Sue For A Recall?
Yes, you can sue for a recall in many circumstances. A recall may be the basis for a lawsuit because it is strong proof that the vehicle was defective. The value of the claim depends on the harm that occurs because of a recall. You can sue for a recall if you’re injured because of a defect that leads to a recall.
You can also sue for the lost value of the vehicle. All owners of recalled vehicles have repair, replacement and refund rights.
There are several unique issues present in lawsuits for car recalls:
1. Statute of limitations
Each state has a limited period of time to bring a lawsuit for a defective product. This period of time is called the statute of limitations. The time for tolling of the statute can become complex when the vehicle manufacturer issues a recall notice. The manufacturer may argue that the owner knew or should have known of the recall.
U.S. law 49 C.F.R. 573.15 requires a vehicle manufacturer to make recall information available online. The information must be searchable by VIN, but it must be kept private. It must be free of charge for searchers. If a recall notice is issued for a vehicle, and the period of time elapses between the notice and the claim, the manufacturer is likely to argue that the statute of limitations prevents the lawsuit. A person making a claim for a recall lawsuit should be mindful of the statute of limitations and how it may apply in a vehicle recall case.
2. Contributory negligence
Another important issue in car manufacturer recalls is contributory negligence. Even if a motor vehicle owner receives a recall notice, they may not have the repairs done. Then, when an accident occurs, they may seek to hold the car manufacturer responsible for the injuries. In turn, the manufacturer may argue that the victim played a role in the accident by not having the repairs done.
Contributory negligence arguments can significantly impact the process of a recall claim. However, if you’re in this situation, you may still deserve significant compensation. Don’t be dissuaded from meeting with our personal injury attorneys for a personalized consultation.
3. Post-sale duty to warn
One emerging issue in vehicle manufacturer recall lawsuits is the post-sale duty to warn. The post-sale duty to warn is based on the common law theory that a manufacturer must warn consumers about the dangers of a product that arise after sale. This duty is separate from defective design, manufacturing, and inadequate instruction duties.
It is also separate from manufacturer recall rights.
Not all states recognize a post-sale duty to warn. Nevada is one of the courts that has not recognized a duty to warn at this time. However, other states like Alaska and Iowa recognize the post-sale duty to warn as a cause of action. The Restatement (Third) of Torts recognizes it as a cause of action, too. If duty to warn is an available cause of action, it may help a victim of a defective vehicle and product recall receive fair compensation for their losses.
4. Successor liability
Successor liability occurs when a company sells either the whole company or assets to a successor company. The question then becomes whether the successor company also inherits legal liabilities including recalls. The answer is often yes.
A company may try to declare bankruptcy in order to avoid large-scale liability for recalls. In fact, General Motors tried to disclaim fines, settlements and other penalties from faulty ignition switch defects that lead to 124 deaths. GM argued that they should not continue to have liability for the defects because they filed for bankruptcy in 2009. The defects occurred in the Chevrolet Cobalt and the Saturn Ion. The switch could turn off by itself, disabling airbags and leaving the car without power.
The defect led to 2.6 million recalls. The Supreme Court refused to review the case after a lower court ruled that GM continued to have legal liability after the bankruptcy.
Ultimately, the company set up a $594.5 million compensation fund based on failures to issue recalls or incomplete recalls and the injuries and deaths that resulted.
Attorney for Recalled Vehicles
If you’re the victim of a recalled or defective vehicle, you may have a legal right to compensation. However, it’s up to you to take the right steps in order to pursue compensation. In the case of a vehicle recall, the steps can be complex. Multiple paths to recovery and unique legal issues can all complicate the process of receiving justice for the victim of a recalled vehicle.
That’s where our attorneys for recalled vehicles can help. We’re serious about helping you get the results that you deserve. Our team can evaluate your case. We work to explore all of the avenues that may be available to help you find relief after a vehicle recall. In addition, we understand the complex issues that you need to master in order to get the compensation that you deserve.
Contact us today for your free and confidential consultation.