Automakers Don’t Always Report Defects as They Should

By April 8, 2016Product Liability

Authored by: Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C. posted in Defective Consumer Products on Friday, April 8, 2016.

ignition switch.jpgIn 2015, 51.3 million cars and trucks in the United States were recalled due to defective auto parts. That broke all previous records. On average, about 25 percent of all recalled vehicles reportedly do not get repaired. For cars between five and 10 years old, that number jumps to 44 percent.

Considering how dangerous defective automobiles can be -­ defective GM ignition switches have been linked to at least 12 deaths – why do so many faulty cars go unrepaired?

While some vehicle owners may disregard notices for needed repairs, there’s extensive evidence that auto manufacturers deserve a substantial share of the blame.

Auto Manufacturers Fined Millions for Negligent Reporting

Federal law requires car makers to report known defects and data on fatal crashes and injuries to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In December 2015, the agency fined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles $70 million for insufficient reporting. That’s on top of $105 million from a related government investigation.

The NHTSA also fined Honda $70 million last year for not reporting 1,729 consumer claims of death and injuries linked to their cars going back to 2003, when the reporting rule was instituted.

Owners of Recalled Cars Must be Notified

After the government issues a recall of defective cars or trucks, the manufacturers must mail a notice to all registered owners of the faulty vehicles. The notice spells out the nature of the problem and informs owners how to get the issue repaired at no cost.

But automakers don’t always do the right thing. A portion of the Fiat Chrysler fine was in response to the automaker’s insufficient handling of recall notices. GM was fined $35 million in 2014 over how it handled its defective ignition switch recall.

Auto manufacturers are expected to market safe cars and trucks. And when they know about life-threatening problems, they must act quickly to protect their customers.

The recent federal fines illustrate the willingness of automakers to shirk their obligations. When this happens, consumers can turn to the legal system for recourse. If you were seriously injured or a family member was killed because of a defective automobile or any other faulty product, an attorney who handles product liability lawsuits can pursue just compensation from those responsible.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.