We live in a consumer culture; everywhere you go there is someone buying a product or service. When we buy products in the United States, we expect it to work well and be safe to use, and by doing so we put our own safety in the hands of manufacturers, trusting them to be diligent in their inspections and designs. Nowhere is the trust between a producer and consumer more important than in the auto-industry, where negligence on the part of a manufacturer can mean the difference between life and death.
Yesterday afternoon, Chrysler announced it will recall some 213,000 vehicles in a series of five actions due to various problems. The automaker informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that issues included driveshaft failures, possibility of under-hood fires, stalling, and airbag malfunctions. The largest of these actions will recall 119,000 2011-2012 Chrysler 300’s, Challengers, and Chargers due to problems in their wiring that could cause malfunctions in the onboard airbag lights and functions.
Additionally, Chrysler will recall roughly 61,000 2007-2008 Dodge Nitro and Jeep Liberty vehicles due to possible driveshaft failures as well as about 20,500 2012 Jeep Patriot and Compass models because of possible stalling issues. The last recalls will involve nearly 13,000 2013 Ram pickups due to engine compartment fires and parking brake problems. Chrysler reported that they were unaware of any injuries or accidents related to these problems, and issued the recalls voluntarily. (New York Times)
According to the laws and regulations of our auto-market in the United States, once a manufacturer becomes aware of a safety issue they must inform the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration within 5 days of a recall plan. Automakers that fail to do this are subject to substantial fines and risk serious injury to their customers everyday that defects go unacknowledged. Because of this, in most vehicle defect cases no contractual relationship needs to exist between the injured party and the defendant for a legitimate suit to be filed. (allaboutcaraccidents)
Car companies and manufacturers aren’t perfect; they are subject to error just as much as you or I. It would be unreasonable to demand that every car that comes off of an assembly line will be perfect, but it is completely reasonable to expect manufacturers to take every measure to ensure their customers’ safety if a defect is detected. Chrysler’s actions this week are an example of responsibility, and proactive conduct such as this keeps our roadways safe.
Our lawyers have a wealth of experience dealing with automobile design defects, and have tried and won many cases for our clients. In one such case, we recovered a $3 million settlement from a car manufacturer that improperly designed their vehicles fuel delivery system. This error resulted in a fuel-fed fire that killed the occupants of the car during an accident.