Who Can Be Liable for a Crash Caused by a Vehicle Recall?

car mechanic examining the undercarriageMost traffic accidents are caused by driver error, but not always. Sometimes collisions may happen because of a vehicle defect. Manufacturers will likely be held liable if their vehicle was defective and caused a crash. However, who can be liable for a crash caused by a vehicle recall? 

Greg Coleman Law explains more about recalls, including what they are and who may be responsible if a vehicle recall contributes to a traffic accident.

If you were involved in a collision involving a recalled vehicle, our experienced Knoxville car crash lawyers are ready to help. Set up a free case review with one of the qualified attorneys at our firm to get answers to your legal questions.

There is no cost to find out if you have a case. Ph: (865) 247-0080

What is a Vehicle Recall?

A vehicle recall is a notice that gets issued when one or more vehicles are considered to be unsafe because of a defect. The decision to issue a recall is made by a government agency, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the manufacturer of the vehicle in question. Often a recall may result after a wave of incidents caused by the same problem or defective part. The exploding Takata airbags are just one example of a defective part that presented a danger to drivers and passengers. However, there is more to the process than just saying a vehicle is unsafe. A vehicle recall involves:

  • Either the NHTSA or manufacturer assessing that a vehicle, or a part or product on that vehicle, may be defective
  • An investigation to identify how the defective vehicle or part fails to meet acceptable safety standards
  • The affected company or government agency notifying the public and individual consumers about the recall
  • The company repairing or replacing the defective vehicle, part or accessory - at no cost to the vehicle owner

What if a Vehicle is Defective, But No Recall Has Been Issued?

If a vehicle is found to be defective and that defect ends up causing a crash, the manufacturer will likely be liable for the damages – even if no recall has been issued. Sometimes it can take weeks, months or even years for a defective part to be identified and recalled. However, manufacturers are not released from liability just because there is no recall.

Manufacturers still owe a duty to consumers to ensure the vehicles they produce – including mechanical parts and other accessories – meet minimum safety standards. Purchasing a vehicle from a manufacturer gives consumers the right to have a reasonable expectation that their newly purchased vehicle will meet all state and federal safety standards under ordinary usage.

What if a Defective Vehicle is Recalled After a Crash?

It is not uncommon for a vehicle to be recalled after many crashes involving the same defective vehicle, part or accessory. Often, it takes multiple accidents caused by the same defect to initiate an investigation, so it can take a long time before a vehicle recall occurs. Whether you may have further legal options if a recall occurs after your accident depends on a lot of factors. This situation is something you should discuss with the attorney handling your car crash claim.

What if the Owner Knew About the Recall?

Vehicle owners who knew or should have known about a vehicle recall, but failed to get the issue repaired or replaced, could be held to some liability if a crash occurs. Vehicle owners are responsible for keeping up with proper maintenance, including taking care of known defects and recalls.

Again, however, whether a vehicle owner shares any liability for a collision if he or she knew about a recall may depend on certain factors, such as:

  • How long ago the owner received notice about the recall
  • The extent of the defect and its impact on causing the crash
  • How the owner was notified about the vehicle recall
  • The clarity of the recall instructions the owner received
  • Proof that the owner received the vehicle recall notice
  • Whether the owner had reasonable time to act prior to the crash

Can a Dealership Sell Me a Car With an Open Recall?

There are federal laws in place making it illegal for a dealership to sell you a new car that has an open recall. However, both private sellers and dealers may sell you a used vehicle with an open recall. Therefore, you should always check any used vehicle for safety issues and recalls on the NHTSA website.

What if the Car I Rented Has an Open Vehicle Recall?

Due to a federal law passed on June 1, 2016, rental car agencies are legally required to fix any open recalls on their vehicles. In other words, a rental agency cannot legally rent you a vehicle with an open vehicle recall.

Know Your Responsibility if You Receive Notice of a Vehicle Recall

As soon as you receive a notice about your vehicle from the manufacturer, you should read it fully and carefully. If the notice is about a recall for your vehicle, it should include information about:

  • Why there is a recall for your vehicle
  • How and where to get it fixed
  • Whether driving your vehicle before getting it fixed is dangerous

After receiving this notice, you should contact the dealership immediately and take the first available appointment to get your vehicle fixed. Ignoring a recall on your vehicle and failing to get it fixed could make you liable for any resulting accident or damages.

Did a Recalled Vehicle Cause Your Crash? Our Law Firm is Ready to Help

At Greg Coleman Law, we have been representing injured victims for decades. We have a strong and proven record, recovering millions in compensation for our clients.

Get answers to your legal questions and find out if you may have a claim during a free consultation. This meeting is with a qualified attorney, carries no obligation to file a claim and is completely confidential. We are available to take your call 24/7.

No Upfront Costs if We Represent You. (865) 247-0080