What Should I do if a Part of my Car was Recalled?
There are thousands of vehicle recalls each year. Car parts are recalled because they are defective or they malfunction. In some cases, a vehicle recall occurs because a defective car part causes injuries or car accidents.
Manufacturers initiate some car part recalls. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also initiates vehicle recalls when necessary. You can check to see if your vehicle is subject to a recall notice on the NHTSA website by entering your vehicle identification number (VIN).
What are Your Rights When a Car Part is Recalled?
As a consumer, you have certain legal rights when a manufacturer recalls a defective car part. Your rights regarding a recalled car part include:
- The right to receive a written notice of the recall.
- The right to know the availability of a remedy and how long the remedy takes to complete.
- The right to have your vehicle repaired at no cost to you.
- The right to receive contact information for who to contact with problems and how to contact that party.
- The potential right to reimbursement of the cost of repair if you pay to repair the defective part before the manufacturer issues a recall notice.
What Should you do if you Receive a Recall Notice?
If you receive a recall notice or you find your vehicle listed on the NHTSA website for a recall, take your vehicle and the information to an authorized dealer. The car or part manufacturer should pay to repair the default or replace the defective product.
If a dealer refuses to repair the vehicle, contact the manufacturer. The contact information should be on the recall notice. You can also file a complaint with the NHTSA.
If there is a delay in getting the repair scheduled, check the recall notice for instructions and information regarding the recall. In many cases, the recall is minor and should not cause injuries or accidents. However, some recalls can result in immediate harm.
Read the recall notice carefully and talk to your automobile dealer. If there is a chance that the defective car part could cause an injury, you may need to park the vehicle until the dealer completes the repair.
If an automobile dealer or the recall notice tells you to stop driving the vehicle, take the matter seriously. Some defective parts could cause death or severe injury.
How do I Know if I Have a Product Liability Claim?
Even though a car manufacturer may repair or replace a defective car part free of charge for you, that does not mean that you do not have additional rights under product liability laws. When the dealer repairs or replaces a car part, that does not compensate you for other damages and losses. You could be entitled to compensation from the responsible party.
If a defective car part caused you to sustain losses or damages, a product liability lawyer can review the case to determine if you should file a claim for damages.
A product liability claim involves proving that:
- The manufacturer has a duty of care to provide vehicles and car parts that are safe to use;
- The manufacturer breached the duty of care by designing a defective car part or manufacturer a vehicle that was not safe for use;
- The defect was the direct and proximate cause of an accident or injury; and,
- The accident resulted in an injury and damages, such as physical injuries, lost wages, medical bills, and emotional distress.
Fortunately, most recalls do not result in accidents or injuries. However, when a defective product does cause an injury, proving liability for damages is crucial for recovering compensation.
Common Damages in a Product Liability Claim
Damages included in product liability claims for defective car parts include, but are not limited to:
- Cost of medical care;
- Personal care costs and expenses for help with household chores;
- Loss of income;
- Physical pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish and emotional distress;
- Disabilities and permanent impairments;
- Loss of enjoyment of life; and,
- Other out-of-pocket financial losses.
The value of a product liability claim depends on several factors, including the severity of your injuries and the amount of your financial losses.
However, if you drive the vehicle after receiving a recall notice, you could be held partially at fault for your injuries. In that case, you might not receive full compensation for all damages and losses. Therefore, for your safety and wellbeing, always read recall notices carefully and have the repairs made as quickly as possible.