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How Dangerous Are Unrepaired Defective Cars?


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For years you have boasted of your perfect driving record. Not one scratch or fender-bender has ever blemished your cars, trucks, or other vehicles. However, one day you are driving down the highway in a safe and reasonable manner while well within the speed limit when your car is violently rear-ended by an apparently out-of-control SUV. This one incident leaves you with a  now no-longer unblemished driving record, expensive repair bills, and life-long personal injuries that impact all of your activities and goals.

After an investigation it turns out that the loss of control in the SUV was caused by a defective and recalled part installed in the SUV.  All of these consequences would have likely been avoided if the SUV’s owner had sought repair and got the defective part replaced in a timely manner. Unfortunately, 2014 was a record year for defects and recalls with GM’s ignition switch problems and Takata’s defective airbag inflators making up two of the largest recalls. Many of these vehicles are still out driving on our highways and local roads unrepaired. These defects ca strike at any moment and lead to a loss of vehicle control that significantly increases the likelihood of a serious accident producing catastrophic injuries.

How Many Unrepaired Cars are Still On the Road?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) it is estimated that one out of every four car owners do not get their cars repaired within the first 18 months of a safety recall despite direct notification by the car’s manufacturer. This period of inactivity leads to an increased exposure to safety hazards, particularly on highways and interstate roads. The high velocity of travel on highways and interstates can maximize the risks of certain defects occurring and also results in more severe injuries when crashes do occur.

One industry watchdog, CarMax, Inc, estimates that a shocking 46 million cars with unaddressed and open recalls are still being driven across the United States. The delay between a recall’s announcement and consumer action extends to all major automotive brands like Ford, Honda, Toyota, and General Motors. Safety recalls can include major parts of the vehicle such as the power train, engine, gas tank and electrical system. If any of these areas was defectively designed or manufactured, drivers and passengers face an increased risk of life-threatening danger due to a vehicle malfunction.

Can Unrepaired Recall Defects Start a Fire?

While a car accident might be the number one concern for people with a vehicle that has a safety recall, it is not the only possible catastrophic event. Through an extensive five-year research study the Highway Loss Data Institute determined that the incidence of claims for non-crash related fires was 23 percent higher when the vehicle had been recalled for one or more safety concerns.

However certain defects are more likely to cause a fire or explosion than others. Defects likely to cause non-crash fires include problems in the electrical or fuel systems of the cars. Even something as trivial as a vanity mirror light with a faulty wire could expose the car owner and their families to such danger. In fact, in the case of the 2011-2014 Dodge Durango, a very popular SUV, faulty wiring could indeed cause a fire.  According to CarMax statistics, 1 in 5 SUVs have at least one open safety recall, and some 5 million cars were bought and sold despite of having an unrepaired defect.

Unreported Defects on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

In July 2015, NHTSA ordered Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to pay a steep fine of $ 105 million because of delayed recall announcements and failure to report car defects. More than 11 million vehicles were involved in the list of defects that were not promptly announced by the company. The list of 23 recalls on different causes made vehicles suddenly develop serious mechanical trouble, such as the axle locking up and the steering power to fail on a turn.

To make matters worse, on September 29, 2015, NHTSA accused the car maker of not only failing to report the defects in a timely fashion, but of widely underreporting the number of deaths that involved their vehicles. Although no specific number was mentioned, NHTSA has said that because of the large discrepancy regarding the victims of these recalls, it will punish the company further if more problems are found in its safety recall process.

Injured by a Defective Car or Truck? Contact an Attorney to Help You Claim What you Deserve

It is crucial to contact an attorney if you have been in an accident caused by an unrepaired defect that was subject to a recall. The sooner a vehicle owner takes action, the better for the safety of all motorists. But, if you’ve already been injured by an unrepaired defective vehicle, you may be entitled to financial restitution. To schedule a free, private initial legal consultation with an experienced Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer and auto defect attorney call the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak at (479) 316-0438 today or contact us online.

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