Understanding the Vehicle Recall Process and Your Rights
- February 13, 2015
- Vehicle Defects
When a vehicle has been recalled, that means that either the government or a vehicle manufacturer has determined that the vehicle is not safe to drive. Companies can initiate these recalls themselves or they can be initiated by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA was given this authority by the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act as originally enacted in 1966.
Vehicles will be recalled if they have a significant safety defect or the vehicle (or equipment used in the vehicle) does not comply with required Vehicle Safety Standards. National Vehicle Safety Standards require that virtually every part of the car that helps drivers be safe on the road conform to certain safety requirements—from the brake lights to the seat belts.
The Vehicle Recall Process
When a safety defect is discovered, either the manufacturer or the NHTSA will initiate the recall. Recalls are often discovered because individual car owners notify regulators of safety problems. Generally, companies that begin the recall process themselves are looked upon more favorably than if the government forces them to begin a recall. If you are unsure if your vehicle has been recalled or if you want to be sure that your vehicle has not been recalled, then you can check the NHTSA’s national database of recalled vehicles and safety notices; this service is available online. However, if your vehicle has been recalled, then the manufacturer is required to send you a notice of the recall by letter.
The manufacturer must provide you a recall remedy free of charge, which should be explained in your recall letter. This remedy must be provided within a reasonable amount of time. However, the manufacturer is allowed to choose what type of remedy they want to offer. The manufacturer will often choose the cheapest available remedy. Possible remedies include repairing the defect, replacing the vehicle or defective vehicle part, or refunding the purchase price of the vehicle. If the manufacturer chooses the refund option, they will take off a certain percentage of value for the amount of depreciation that your car has endured in the time that you had it.
Your Legal Rights
When a vehicle is recalled, the recall may not take place until accidents and injuries have already occurred as a result of the defected vehicle or vehicle part. This is when a vehicle defect lawyer will come in handy. A car accident attorney will recover compensation for any damages or injuries that have occurred and are caused by or related to the safety defect.
This could include situations where the driver of the defected vehicle sustained injuries or where the defected vehicle caused or contributed to the injuries of other drivers or people. Where another driver has been injured as a result of the defect and that driver sues, then the driver of the defected vehicle could sue the manufacturer for indemnification. Indemnification is a process by which the manufacturer would be forced to pay for any damages that the defect caused.
For more information on recalls or your legal rights in a recall situation, contact an experienced Dallas vehicle defect lawyer.