Few consumer goods are as safety-critical as the motor vehicles people use for transportation. A car with defective components, particularly when the defects are in safety restraints or critical systems for the vehicle’s function (like brakes) puts drivers and passengers at unnecessary risk.
There have been multiple, massive recalls in recent years stemming from single faulty components in popular vehicles. From dangerous Takata airbags to faulty fuel pumps, defective vehicle components are a major risk for consumers and cost for manufacturers.
One of the most prominent German automakers, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz USA, has recently agreed to financial consequences that could reach as much as $20 million because of how they handled safety-critical recalls here in the United States.
Delayed recalls and consumer contact caused the massive fine
Automakers with defective products can wind up financially accountable for the damages a defective vehicle causes. That potential financial loss motivates some automakers to take aggressive action when they discover faulty or potentially defective components in vehicles consumers have already purchased. Unfortunately, some automakers treat the issue as less serious than others.
The basis for the fine that Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz USA will pay stems from delayed rollout of critical recalls, massive connectivity issues with web pages intended to allow vehicle owners to check the VIN number of their vehicle for inclusion in a recall, and failure to notify some owners of the risk their current vehicles posed. They also failed to file reports with the government within five days as required.
Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz USA has agreed to the terms set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which include the immediate payment of $13 million. They could face another $7 million in fines unless they remedy the issues that gave cause to the action in the first place.
People hurt by defective vehicles and their loved ones have rights
Simply announcing a recall does not protect a manufacturer from the liability caused by a defective product. A recall must happen quickly, and manufacturers must comply with government requirements for the recall.
In the case of vehicle and vehicle component recalls, those requirements include a mandatory notice to all affected owners within 60 days of the recall, which Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz USA failed to do. That could have left hundreds of drivers at unnecessary risk. Timely notification and adequate funding for repairs or replacement vehicles are critical to the success of a vehicle-related recall.
If a consumer does not know of the recall or if they suffer injuries caused by the defective product prior to the announcement of the recall, they can still hold companies accountable for the losses defective products often cause. Personal injury lawsuits can help people secure compensation for medical costs, lost wages and property damage.