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What Happens When I'm in an Accident Due to a Recall Before I Could Get It Fixed?

front of car after it has been in an accident

Vehicle recalls alert drivers to defective parts that need to be repaired or replaced immediately. But if you were injured in a crash before you had time to fix a defective auto part, you may be wondering what to do next. If your accident was caused by a recalled vehicle part, a car accident attorney may be able to help you get the compensation you need to recover your losses. Motorists injured in Dallas, TX or nearby areas can reach out to an attorney from Buckingham & Vega Law Firm for more information. We handle complicated car accident cases in Dallas involving recalled vehicle parts.

What Is a Vehicle Recall?

Vehicles that are believed to create an unreasonable safety risk, or fail to meet minimum safety standards, may be recalled—either by the manufacturing company itself or by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Information about your vehicle can be found on the NHTSA vehicle recall webpage by searching by your vehicle identification number (VIN). Here, you can also submit a complaint about a vehicle safety issue, download the Safecar mobile app, or sign up to receive email or text alerts from NHTSA about recalled vehicles and auto parts.

Once a safety issue has been identified, the vehicle or parts manufacturer has an obligation to repair the problem, replace the defective component, offer a refund, or in rare cases replace an entire vehicle. Manufacturers have a duty to notify registered vehicle owners and offer a solution free of charge.

A safety issue may be a defect related to the design, construction, materials, or performance of a motor vehicle component or system. Any defective vehicle part can be subject to a recall if it poses a threat to motorists, but there are some auto parts that are more commonly recalled than others. The following is a list of auto parts that may be defective and result in a recall:

  • Seatbelts
  • Car seats, booster seats, and child safety restraints
  • Airbags
  • Tires or wheels
  • Brake components
  • Steering components and steering systems
  • Fuel systems (especially those at risk of causing fire)
  • Windshield wipers
  • Internal wiring
  • Accelerator controls

What Happens After a Vehicle Is Recalled?

Assuming that you have registered your vehicle with the manufacturer, you should receive a letter in the mail notifying you of the product recall. Within the letter, the manufacturer will provide information about how to resolve the safety issue in question. Often, this will require you to schedule an appointment with a local auto dealership to have the faulty component repaired or replaced. You should not be asked to pay a fee for this service.

Even a minor defective part can pose a significant safety risk to you as a driver or passenger. It’s therefore important to take vehicle recalls seriously and address the issue as soon as you are able. But often, complicating factors prevent vehicle owners from repairing the problem immediately. Some vehicle owners may have changed their address. Some may be traveling and not see the letter until weeks after it was issued. Other motorists may have difficulty scheduling an appointment at a dealership. Some owners may have other, more critical, life events to focus on before going in for a repair.

Whatever the reason, it’s not unheard of for a recalled vehicle part to go unrepaired for a period of time after the recall was issued. But what happens if that recalled part causes an accident before it’s been fixed? What can you do if you were injured in an accident caused by a recalled vehicle component?

What to Do After an Accident Caused by a Recalled Vehicle Part

If the vehicle manufacturer issued a public recall before your accident, determining and proving liability can become more complicated. You’ll need to confer with an experienced car accident attorney to determine your legal options based on the specific circumstances of your case. It’s likely that the manufacturer will dispute liability. They may argue that they are no longer responsible for the accident, pointing to the fact that they already upheld their duty to notify you of the problem and provide you the means to fix it. They may try to point a finger at you for failing to do your part to repair a dangerous problem—a problem of which you should have been aware.

If you don’t have a qualified attorney to look more closely into the details of your case, it’s possible that the vehicle manufacturer will be able to effectively avoid liability for the accident. But we as car accident attorneys are aware, the fault does not usually lie totally with the vehicle owner who was not able to fix the problem fast enough to avert an accident. In many cases, the manufacturing company should still be held responsible for a design or construction mistake that hurt or killed others.

There are multiple factors you and your lawyer will need to consider when determining liability after a collision involving a recalled vehicle. These factors may include:

  • When the recall was issued
  • When the accident occurred
  • The cause (or causes) of the accident
  • Whether or not the vehicle owner actually received a notice of the recall
  • What circumstances prevented the vehicle owner from fixing the problem promptly
  • The specific details of the recalled product and potential risks
  • How the recall was made public
  • How the manufacturer offered to fix the issue
  • What instructions were provided in the notification letter
  • The availability of parts or services to the vehicle owner
  • Any other relevant factors concerning the method of recall or the recalled part itself

It’s possible that both the vehicle owner and the manufacturing company (or even another party) were partly at fault for the accident. Texas’ comparative negligence (or proportionate responsibility) law recognizes that more than one person or party may be liable for an accident. Your lawyer will be able to examine all the evidence surrounding your case to accurately determine who is at fault and what compensation you may be entitled to receive.

Legal Help in Dallas, TX for Recalled Vehicle Accident Victims

If you were hurt in an accident before a recalled vehicle part was fixed, you can speak with an experienced car accident lawyer from our firm at no cost to you. We provide free consultations to learn more about the circumstances of your crash and how you may be able to take legal action. We may be able to help you recover compensation for losses you suffered. Contact Buckingham & Vega Law Firm to learn more.

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