Accidents Due to Car Defects – the Reason behind Vehicle Recalls

On May 6, 2015, General Motors LLC (GM) began the recall of some of its Chevrolet Impala vehicles (model year 2014) which were manufactured between March 22, 2013, and May 22, 2014. These vehicles were found to be with brake pads that remained partially engaged with the rotors due to the failure of the electronic parking brake piston actuation arm to fully retract – a manufacturing defect that can cause excessive brake heat which, in turn, can cause fire. This safety defect is clearly failure to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Systems (FMVSS) No. 135 “Light Vehicle Brake Systems” requirement.

Many motor vehicle owners are familiar with what vehicle recall means, especially if the vehicle they own is one of those that is presently, or has been, part of a recall. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a vehicle recall becomes necessary if the same problem has been cited as the cause of car crash injuries involving vehicles of the same make and model.

A recall may be made either by a manufacturer (voluntary recall) or through a court order that is instigated by the NHTSA if:

  • The defective vehicle poses a risk to the safety of its driver, passengers or anyone on the road; and,
  • The vehicle or any of its parts has failed to comply with the minimum performance requirement established by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). Minimum performance standards are aimed at ensuring the safe operation of vehicles and the safety of all vehicle occupants (driver and passengers) from injury or death in the event of a crash; there are minimum standards for brakes, tires, lighting, air bags, safety belts, child restraints and other parts.

In September of 2014, Ford recalled more than 850,000 of its vehicles due to defective airbags and seat belts; on the month that followed, Chrysler discovered these same defects in about 184,215 of its SUVs, prompting its manufacturer to make a recall.

The most recent and biggest auto-safety recall in the history of the car industry in the U.S. involves Takata-made airbags that are said to explode, shooting potentially fatal metal fragments inside the vehicle. These exploding airbags have been linked to hundreds of injuries and five deaths.

Records from safercar.gov show about 19 million vehicles in the U.S. having been installed with this defective airbag; around the world, the number of affected vehicles is 53 million. Some of the vehicles affected are Honda, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Daihatsu, Nissan, Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, BMW and Lexus.

According to the law firm Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, “Purchasing a new vehicle or vehicle accessory is often exciting, and can mean safe transport for you and your loved ones. However, if there is a defect in the vehicle, you and your passengers could be at risk of being injured in a car accident. Although mechanical innovations and regulatory measures continue to improve, numerous auto defects still cause injury to people every year.

Any defect could cause significant injuries to a driver and his/her passengers in the event of an accident. It is quite comforting to know, therefore, that, in many cases with the help of an attorney, injured victims can successfully seek damage compensation from the party responsible for the defects.”