In today’s Question & Answer feature, Ziff Law managing partner Jim Reed fields a questions about car recalls, which have been a big national news story lately because automakers are on a record pace for recalls.
According to news reports, about 9 million vehicles have been recalled already in 2014, including 2.6 million small GM cars for defective ignition switches and 1.8 million Toyotas.
A Georgia couple’s search for the truth after their daughter died in a one-car accident in 2010 in a Chevrolet Cobalt drove the GM ignition switch problem into the headlines.
On a recent “Law Talk” segment on WETM News at Noon on Wednesdays, Jim talked about why car owners need to pay attention to the recall notices. In “Law Talk,” the Ziff Law lawyers talk about legal issues, often in connection with news events.
Question: What should Twin Tiers residents do if they receive a recall notice for their car? And what happens if they get in an accident in a vehicle that has been recalled?
Jim Reed: Car owners are seeing a lot of recalls now and wondering if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Recalls are a good thing because they are saying that the manufacturer is doing the right thing, rather than sweeping it under the carpet, as used to happen years ago. We used to talk about cases like the Ford Pinto, where manufacturers knew there was a dangerous problem with one of their vehicles and did not do something about it. The Pinto was recalled in 1978 after fuel-tank design flaws led to fatal fires in some cases when Pintos were struck from behind. At that time, Ford was accused of deciding that it was cheaper to pay off lawsuits than make the repairs.
These recalls are getting away from that and they are a good safety step. Frankly, a lot of people are critical of lawsuits – I understand, I am a lawyer who handles these lawsuits – but the thing I have to constantly stress to people is it is often these lawsuits that motivate manufacturers to change their behavior. So people should embrace recalls.
When you get a recall notice, make an appointment with your dealer right away. Some of the recalls may be for something small, like weather stripping that can lead to a leak in your car, but others involve braking systems or ignition systems, things that make a huge difference.
Don’t ignore a recall notice or wait for something bad to happen. Take steps to make sure you are driving in a safe car.
If there is something really critical in that recall notice, avoid using the recalled car until it is repaired. Better to be safe than sorry.
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