Defective products are covered by state product liability laws in both Indiana and Illinois. If there is a serious accident where someone is severely injured or killed, then the victim and her family will have a legal avenue to seek justice afterward and get financial coverage for the resulting medical expenses, hospital stays, physical rehabilitation costs, and more.
Many defective product accident cases involve things like household products (malfunctioning laptop batteries that catch fire, for instance) or food items (like the recent massive recall of frozen food tainted with toxic listeria). (The Consumer Product Safety Commission keeps track of all these product dangers and publishes an ongoing online list of recalls here.)
Millions and Millions of Dangerous Cars on the Roads Today
While any dangerous product is cause for concern, today’s reality is that one type of product being sold in the American marketplace is the subject of so many recalls that it has reached epidemic levels. That’s the motor vehicle, something that we are all vulnerable to being hurt or killed by when that defective product fails in a material way and the result is a car crash or truck accident.
It has been building up for years. See, e.g., “Honda Recalls Airbags for Third Time: Over 1,600,000 Hondas and Acuras Recalled for Dangerous Airbags,” which we posted back in May 2011.
This isn’t an exaggeration. This month, Fortune Magazine is calling one single recall — that of Takata air bags — as one that is now a “full blown crisis.” In its article entitled, “The Takata Airbag Recall Is Now a Full-Blown Crisis,” reporter David Kiley describes how there have been 70,000,000 recalls because of the air bag defect but only 8,000,000 repairs have been made.
Which means that there are still 62 Million vehicles being driven today that are dangerous because they have these bad Takata air bags installed in them.
That’s around 11% fixed and 89% unrepaired air bags. Think about that as your child is driving home from school, or you’re driving to work on the Borman Expressway tomorrow.
In Just the Past Sixty Days, Millions More Defective Car Recalls
This would a serious concern if the ONLY car recall issue were these Takata air bags. But that’s far from the only serious problem with motor vehicles being sold in the United States today.
In our last post, we discussed the problem with the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s “gear selector” which may have been the cause of a horrific accidental death of Star Trek star Anton Yelchin this past Sunday.
The flawed design in the gear selector is only one of several defects in the products that Fiat Chrysler has been selling in the past few years. As we detailed in that post, Fiat Chrysler was just hit with two huge fines by the federal government for its admitted failures and denials — and it’s being operated under federal oversight now until 2018.
Other serious defects in cars being driven on roads in Indiana and Illinois include the June 2016 recall of over 400,000 models of Hyundai and Kai vehicles. One big problem? The hood latches don’t stay in place, which means the hood can fly up while the vehicle is being driven and block the driver from being able to see what is ahead of him on the road.
Another one: the April 2016 recall by Ford of 300,000 vehicles because of various dangers that include transmissions that can suddenly lock the rear tires while the car is in motion; tires that can blow; and car seats that haven’t been welded properly allowing the seat to come off its track (especially dangerous if it’s the driver’s seat while the car is being driven).
And air bags? This month, General Motors together with six other major car makers here released another recall of Takata air bags in 4,400,000 vehicles. This is the first wave of another 35-40 Million defective air bags that were recalled, and that 40 Million is in addition to the earlier Takata air bag recall which was already the biggest defective product auto recall EVER.
This is far from a complete list. It doesn’t even touch the surface of all the product defects that exist in cars and trucks and minivans and SUVs being sold for a profit by car makers today. They let these products go out into the marketplace and then when dangers become apparent, they issue warnings and recalls and think this is sufficient protection.
Of course, it’s not.
Victims of Recalled Defects: Drivers, Passengers, and Third Parties Hurt in the Crash
People driving these defective products are going to be hurt. Some of them are going to die. Passengers in these vehicles are also vulnerable to being seriously hurt or killed when a defect in the vehicle results in a crash.
These are innocent victims of the car makers’ corporate greed, true. But there are other innocents at risk here: those people who are involved in motor vehicle accidents involving these defective cars and trucks who are hurt or killed in the crash. They didn’t buy the recalled car, they were not riding in the recalled car, they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when that defect failed and in failing, caused the accident.
There is some good news: this month, a new law went into effect that makes sure rental car companies fix any defect / recall before renting that car or SUV out to their customers. Before this month, places like Hertz or Enterprise were fine with renting out vehicles regardless of whether or not they were subject to recall and whether or not that dangerous flaw had been repaired. See, “Dangerous Cars on Indiana and Illinois Roads: Used Cars and Rental Cars.”
Which means that rented vehicles may be safer now that before. But what about all those other vehicles? What about used cars? What about drivers who aren’t aware that their car or SUV needs to be fixed? And what about drivers who are aware of the recall but procrastinate and there’s a serious accident before a repair is made?
Defective Product Accident Victims: What Can You Do After an Accident Involving a Recalled Vehicle
Anyone who is injured in an auto accident involving a recalled vehicle will need to investigate whether or not that recalled defect was responsible for and caused the crash. Did the air bag explode? Did the transmission slam the rear tires into place?
Once it is determined that the product flaw itself was a contributing factor for what happened, then the accident case expands from being a negligent driver case into consideration of the liability of the car maker and auto manufacturer for what has happened. State product liability law comes into play.
Car makers are putting profits over people. We know this – consider the basis for those Fiat Chrysler fines as well as the way that evidence was disappearing in air bag cases until the federal government passed a law that said the defective products could not be destroyed. See, “Feds Requiring Air Bags Be Kept After Recall — Why? Defendants Like to Get Rid of Possible Evidence Against Them.”
In these cases, the driver and the car maker may both be involved as defendants in the resulting accident litigation. This is especially true when the victims are those who were third parties to the recall itself and were hurt when the flawed vehicle crashed into their car or SUV.
Today, it is impossible to drive on any Indiana or Illinois roadway without being near a recalled and defective vehicle. There are simply that many defective product motor vehicles out there right now that have not been fixed.
What can you do? Make sure your car or SUV or minivan is repaired if it has been subject to recall. And drive defensively on the roads, alert to the reality that the cars speeding along the highway next to you may have a design failure. Have room to brake, room to manuever, if you can. Please be careful out there!