Each year, millions of cars in the United States are subject to recalls. Since the Motor Vehicle Safety Act was enacted in 1966, more than 299 million vehicles have been recalled throughout the United States. Vehicles may be subject to a recall, even if the manufacturer is not based in the United States. Though many of the reasons behind a recall are not cause for serious concern, in some cases, Chicago drivers have been seriously injured as the result of recalled cars.
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Unfortunately, recalls are often issued only after multiple injuries have occurred, however, there are legal options for Chicago drivers who have been injured as the result of faulty car parts.
The Car Recall Process
A car manufacturer usually recalls a car because they have recognized a design, operation or production flaw. This flaw could pose a safety risk to for drivers or passengers, if not corrected. When a car is recalled, the manufacturer agrees to fix the problem, without charge to the owner. A recall can also be initiated based on a manufacturer’s own studies, recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or directly from the NHTSA via a court order.
Cars can be recalled for any number of safety reasons, including defective steering systems, faulty tires, unreliable safety restraints or air bags, or defective wiring. The number of cars involved in a recall could number in the dozens or the thousands, depending on the issue and when it was discovered. When a car is recalled, the manufacturer is required to issue a letter, via first class mail to owners, distributors and dealers that outlines the process for getting the car repaired at no cost. This letter should also include information about who to contact with questions or concerns.
One serious flaw in the system is that owners of used cars, or drivers of rental vehicles may not be alerted to recalls. By the time a car is on its second or third owner, an address could be nearly impossible to locate, so many owners are never notified, leaving drivers and their passengers at risk. Certain manufacturers have been criticized for the content of their notification letters because of unclear repair instructions. Since certain design flaws are not discovered until a car has aged, used car owners can be particularly vulnerable.
Drivers of rental vehicles in Chicago could face considerable risk from recalled cars. Neither Illinois nor federal law requires car rental companies to remove vehicles from their fleet after a recall, so the dangers of being injured in a rental car are very real. Though federal legislation has been introduced that would prevent car rental companies from keeping recalled cars on the road altogether, or requiring them to issue a statement informing renters why they were keeping a car in their fleet, at this point, it has not been passed. Efforts have also been made to weaken protections for car renters.
Even though receiving damages is possible in such cases, they can be highly complex, and a great deal of supporting evidence is often needed. In Chicago, a lawyer can assist with the process of seeking reparation after injury in a car accident.
Drivers who believe that their car or a rental could be subject to a recall can check by entering the vin number on the NHTSA website. Determining the exact cause of a car accident can be particularly tricky. Recalled car parts are linked to:
- Rollover accidents
- Tire tread separation
- Flying debris from deployed airbags
- Vehicle fires
- Unexpected Acceleration
- Loss of vehicle control
- Door latch failure
- Roof collapse
- Glass breakage
- Driver and passenger ejections
Car manufacturers are not the only companies that may be responsible for causing an accident. Serious injuries have also been linked to child safety seats, tires and even windshield wipers, which have been installed after the purchase of a car.
It’s important to note that car recalls are only issued for safety risks. In the case of normal wear and tear or cosmetic issues, a recall will not be issued.
Drivers in Chicago may also be protected under the Illinois “Lemon Law.” This law covers new cars that are purchased or leased, within their first 12 months, or first 12,000 miles.The law does not cover used cars, or vehicles that have been modified or altered in any way. Information about how to move forward with a lemon law claim should be found in a vehicle’s owner manual.
Chicago drivers who have been injured in a car accident have the right to seek claims. An Illinois attorney can assist with the process of discovering cause for a car accident and determining if a recall is to blame.