Untimely Automobile Recalls and the Dangers Vehicle Owners Face
In recent years, we have seen a number of automobile-related recalls, many of which have been related to Takata airbag problems. General Motors, in particular, has recalled millions of automobiles due to countless safety-related issues.
But what many individuals may not realize is that an investigation was done into the recalls that revealed that GM may have actually known about many of the issues for at least 10 years prior to issuing a recall and warning its customers about the problems.
Unfortunately, it is becoming more evident that delayed recalls may be more common than any of us realize. Automakers seem to be more concerned with protecting their brand and saving money, even though consumers are facing substantial and serious risk of harm or injury in most instances.
Slow Response Times Are Creating Regulatory Delays
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) conducted a study into over 250 recalls and ultimately learned that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is the government agency that handles the more serious auto safety investigations, is often quite slow to respond to the problems.
More specifically, the WSJ discovered that in many cases, it took the NHTSA over a year to even start an investigation after being advised of potential safety issues, and in some instances, it took over two years. What’s alarming is that during that period, unsuspecting car owners, drivers and passengers continue to operate and ride in potentially dangerous automobiles.
Additionally, auto parts are subject to a number of minimum requirements with respect to performance, and these requirements are generally explained in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Thus, when an automobile or one of its parts fails to meet or comply with the requirements, the part or vehicle should be recalled. The parts that must meet certain requirements typically include a vehicle’s steering components, brakes, airbags, tires, seats, wiring systems and accelerator controls, to name a few.
As noted above, the NHTSA, once advised of the issue, is supposed to launch an investigation into the problem. Still, the WSJ found that the agency failed to meet some of its own internal deadlines with respect to completing its investigations; however, an official with the NHTSA advised the WSJ that because every recall is different, any number of circumstances and/or conditions can alter the amount of time it takes to complete an investigation.
Moreover, if the automaker disagrees with the NHTSA’s claims, the issuance of the recall can be delayed due to the dispute. And even in cases where the auto manufacturer agrees with the recall, obtaining the necessary replacement parts can be a slow process, which can essentially lead to further delays.
Recalls that are delayed can have devastating results for everyone involved — especially those who are operating and/or riding in potentially dangerous automobiles. If you or someone you love has been hurt in an accident involving an automobile that is currently being investigated for potential defects or is already subject to a recall, contact a skilled Denver personal injury lawyer with Levine Law right away to learn more about your legal rights.