As a personal injury firm that represents the victims of vehicle accidents in the Hudson Valley, we know that no two accidents are alike. Every accident has thousands of factors that contribute to them. These factors lead to untold amounts of damage and trauma to people’s lives, and if they’re lucky, they can recover some of the damage from insurance companies. Over the last several decades, the overall number and seriousness of traffic accidents has declined slowly but steadily, because of new design features, traffic safety awareness, and better design standards for roadways and intersections. But one looming area of danger is in unrepaired auto safety recalls: it’s estimated that over 2.2 million New York State vehicles are in need of repair due to a faulty part or component.

If you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident due to another party’s negligence, give us a call at 845-600-0000 to schedule a free personal injury law consultation appointment at our offices in either Kingston, NY or Poughkeepsie. We push back against insurance companies.

Why do vehicle manufacturers issue recalls?

In short, vehicle manufacturers owe a duty to drivers and everyone who shares the road with vehicles to prevent deaths and serious injuries. In 1966, after years of legal battles and agitation, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was passed, which gave the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the enforceable power to set vehicle safety standards and force manufacturers to recall vehicles and parts that don’t meet the standards. It’s estimated that in the 54 years since then, over 390 million vehicles have had some kind of recall, as well as 46 million tires and 42 million child safety seats.

What are some of the most common safety defects?

Motor vehicle safety is defined as: “the performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in a way that protects the public against unreasonable risk of accidents occurring because of the design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risk of death or injury in an accident, and includes nonoperational safety of a motor vehicle.”

Some of the most common defects include:

  • Steering components that are prone to breaking suddenly, causing loss of control
  • Faulty fuel system components that are prone to leaking fuel causing vehicle fires after a crash
  • Accelerator controls (like the gas pedal) that may stick or break
  • Wheels that crack or break
  • Windshield wiper assemblies that fail to work
  • Seats and/or seat backs that fail unexpectedly during normal use
  • Vehicle parts that break, fall apart, or fall off from the vehicle, causing loss of control or injury
  • Wiring system faults that may cause fire or loss of lighting
  • Improperly deploying airbags

Why do safety recalls matter for personal injury cases?

If you or a loved one are seriously injured in an accident, we have to look at all of the possible causes. It’s possible that a malfunction or faulty design in your vehicle, or another party’s vehicle had some share of fault in causing the accident.

If we find that it applies to your case, there are two main possibilities:

  1. The manufacturer of the vehicle or one of its components used a faulty design, and they have been negligent in not issuing a recall of said component.
  2. The manufacturer of your vehicle or one of its components is aware of a safety defect, and they have issued a recall, but either failed to notify you of it, or someone who sold the vehicle made a false representation about it.

What can you proactively do to stay up to date with vehicle recalls?

Up until recently, drivers have been subject to the effectiveness of their vehicle manufacturers to notify them of recalls. Failing that, drivers would have to stumble across recall information printed in USA Today, for example, or would have to constantly check online databases to make sure they were up to date.

However, the NHTSA recently released an app on iOS and Android called Safercar:

You just have to enter your vehicle and tire information one time, and it will keep track of any recall notices going forward and notify you if something changes. The app also covers motorcycles, trucks and car seats. Using the Safercar app will decrease the chances that a known defect will contribute to a serious accident for you and your loved ones.