Understanding How Automobile and Pickup Truck Recalls Work

Ownership of a car or pickup truck is a necessity for many who live in Oregon and elsewhere. When purchasing a vehicle, some people focus on practicality, seeking the most economical transportation alternative for commuting from one place to another and back again. Some buyers need vehicles, such as pickup trucks, to perform specific work-related functions. Then, there are those who view their automobile as an important part of their image and lifestyle.

Regardless of one’s considerations, most of us find it exciting to drive something new. In fact, even the search can be fun. However, few people during this process stop to think that their vehicle may be recalled one day.

In this article, we’ll explain how automobile and truck recalls work.

The Prevalence of Motor Vehicles Across America

According to Statista, 5.3 million automobiles and 11.9 million light trucks were sold in the United States in 2018. But that’s just new vehicles. Statista further reports that, as of the first quarter of 2019, there were 276 million cars on American roads. Thus, it really shouldn’t come as a big surprise that recalls are sometimes necessary.

But the volume of recalls may surprise you. RecallMasters, a provider of recall information and services, reports that in 2018 alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandated the recall of more than 32.7 million vehicles. The company estimated that another 14.5 million vehicles were subject to voluntary recall campaigns.

The Need for Recalls

NHTSA reports that in 2015 alone, approximately 35,092 deaths occurred on U.S. highways (PDF). In addition, the agency estimates that traffic crashes cause a yearly economic loss to society exceeding $230 billion. Therefore, NHTSA finds motor vehicle safety to be of paramount importance. Since passage of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act in 1966, NHTSA has recalled in excess of 390 million vehicles.

The Procedure for Recalls

Federal law establishes safety standards that must be met for motor vehicles and their equipment (such as airbags, brakes, and tires). Recalls occur when a motor vehicle or equipment does not comply with the standards, or when there is a safety-related defect, as that term is defined by law. Some recalls are voluntarily undertaken by manufacturers, while others are mandated by NHTSA.

A consumer who believes he or she has a safety defect can report it to NHTSA. These reports can be made on a toll-free vehicle safety hotline or online at www.NHTSA.gov. Technical staff at the agency monitor and analyze the reports, sometimes spotting trends. If the agency deems it warranted, an investigation will be opened. If it is determined that a safety defect exists, the manufacturer will be instructed to issue a recall. It should be noted that the majority of recalls are voluntarily initiated by manufacturers before NHTSA is involved.

What about victims injured by safety defects and violation of safety standards?

Manufacturers and others in the chain of production and sales of automobiles, pickup trucks, and related equipment have a duty to follow the law. When they fail to do so and cause injury, they can be held liable for their wrongdoing. Depending on the circumstances, they may be sued under theories of products liability or negligence. This probably explains, at least in part, why manufacturers often issue recalls even before the government is involved.

Call with Questions

Safety defects can and do cause accidents resulting in harm to drivers and passengers. Keep in mind that laws governing these defects apply not only to vehicles, but to related equipment, such as brakes, tires, airbags, seatbelts, booster seats, and steering systems.

If you have questions about an injury related to a safety defect in an automobile or pickup truck, please give us a call. The products liability and personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield are experienced in analyzing and pursuing these types of claims.


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