Do vehicle recalls end a manufacturer’s liability for a defect?

Motor vehicle recalls happen all the time, and only the most extreme ones make the national news. Consumers often find out about issues with their vehicles when the dealership where they purchased the vehicle or the manufacturer contacts them to notify them of a recall.

The vehicle recall process often involves requiring consumers to present their vehicles for replacement parts or major repairs. In extreme cases, the company may replace the vehicle because repairing it is not a practical solution.

Once you have notice of a recall, does that mean you can no longer take legal action over a poorly designed vehicle or a defective vehicle component?

A recall does not completely end a manufacturer’s liability

Simply announcing a recall won’t protect a business from legal consequences if their defective products have hurt people, killed people or caused significant property damage. However, a recall does give a manufacturer an opportunity to defend against product liability claims brought in the future.

If they can show that a consumer ignored or failed to comply with a recall, then the consumer may ultimately be responsible for injuries resulting from a vehicle that did not receive necessary repairs or replacement parts.

If the company does not quickly roll out a plan to perform those repairs and left consumers in limbo in the meantime, those hurt while waiting for repairs may still have grounds for a claim. The same is true of those who don’t receive notification that their vehicle was part of a recall. Consumers not given an opportunity to repair a dangerously defective vehicle can still take action against the manufacturer if they get hurt.

You have to take action to receive compensation

Some of the bigger recalls involving defective vehicle components in the last few years have been quite dangerous. There have been cases of bad wiring causing vehicles to spontaneously catch fire. There have been airbags that could throw shrapnel around the inside of a vehicle or deploy at inappropriate times.

People could suffer severe injuries or hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage due to defective vehicles. Understanding when you may have the right to bring a claim about a defective vehicle part that affected your life can help you hold manufacturers responsible for releasing dangerous products.