What do I do if my vehicle was recalled?

CALL (800) 863-5312 to speak with a Zinda Law Group personal injury attorney if you’ve been injured by a recalled vehicle.

Many of us depend on our vehicles for everyday life. We need them to go to work, get groceries, pick up kids from practice, and drive long distances to see family. There is often precious cargo inside, whether it be material items or the people in our lives, so learning that your vehicle may not be safe to drive can put a significant strain on your normal routine, especially in areas where public transportation is scarce or nonexistent.

Zinda Law Group has product liability attorneys who are well-versed in vehicle recalls. If you’ve been injured in a defective or unsafe vehicle, call (800) 863-5312 for a free case evaluation with a personal injury lawyer.

the inconvenience of vehicle recalls

You may be asking what to do if your vehicle was recalled. While having a recall on your vehicle can severely disrupt your life, there are several options to get you back on the road. Of course, car accidents and injuries can accompany vehicle recalls; if you’ve been injured in a vehicle that has a recall or a vehicle you think should be recalled, an attorney may be able to help you get compensated for your injuries.

There is a lot to think about if your vehicle has been recalled, and even more to consider if you’ve been injured in a recalled vehicle. Here are the answers to some common vehicle recall FAQs that you may have if you find yourself involved with a recall.

What is a vehicle recall?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a recall goes into effect when a motor vehicle or part of its equipment either doesn’t comply with federal safety standards or there is a defect. Vehicle recalls can happen to cars that are brand new or a decade old, so no matter what vehicle you drive, a recall could happen.

Federal Standards

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards dictate the minimum performance that is required for different portions of a vehicle. Typically, they focus on those that affect safe operation or protect passengers should a crash occur. Some examples include brakes, lights, airbags, and seat belts. The standards set for motor vehicles are applicable to every motor vehicle and the related equipment within the United States. Generally, if you are driving any vehicle, your vehicle is subject to these standards.

Safety-Related Defects

The United States Code defines a defect as “any defect in performance, construction, a component, or material of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment.” In general, a safety-related defect is one that poses an unreasonable risk of accidents. Some examples of safety-related defects are:

  • faulty wiring that could cause lights to unexpectedly shut off
  • a sticky accelerator that causes loss of control of the vehicle
  • seatbacks that don’t stay locked in during normal use
  • unintended airbag deployment

There are several defects that you could run into with your vehicle, but not all are considered safety defects that would result in a recall. Defects that aren’t related to safety are typically those that are mere annoyances or cosmetic flaws. For example:

  • broken heaters or air conditioners
  • dysfunctional radios or other sound equipment
  • exterior rust or paint issues
  • excessive use of oil

Recalls will typically only address defects that pose a serious risk to your safety and the safety of your passengers and others on the road.

How do I know if my car has been recalled?

Vehicle manufacturers are required to provide notice of any safety recalls. They typically must provide this notice to all registered owners and purchasers within 60 days of a recall being issued. They do this through first class mail, and they gather contact information through state motor vehicle offices. For this reason, it is important to make sure your information is up to date with your local motor vehicle office. 

If you’re unsure about whether or not there is a recall on your vehicle, visit www.safercar.gov and search for your vehicle’s make and model. This database has information about recalled vehicles, recalled safety equipment (such as booster seats and car seats), and ongoing investigations.

This website also makes it easy to file a complaint if you suspect that your vehicle either has a safety defect or does not meet federal safety standards. The NHTSA investigates these complaints, and if they ultimately find that there is an issue deserving of a recall, they will order the manufacturer to take action.

What do I do if my vehicle has been recalled?

When you receive notice of a vehicle recall, don’t panic! This situation, on its own, is not likely to cost you any money.

The letter that the manufacturer sends you should instruct you how to get the vehicle fixed, how long the repairs should take, and how long the repair will be available for you. It should also tell you what to do and whom to contact if you have issues getting your vehicle fixed.

The manufacturer’s obligation to repair the vehicle can take different forms. Most likely, the manufacturer will offer to repair the defect; this means you will go into a dealership, and they will make the proper repairs at no charge. For more substantial issues, the manufacturer has the option to replace the vehicle altogether with one that is at least similar if not the same.

In more rare cases, the manufacturer may elect to refund the cost of the vehicle. These options are true of safety equipment as well; however, there are exceptions to the repairs that a manufacturer is required to provide. ­For example, to be eligible for having a manufacturer cover your recall, usually your vehicle cannot be more than ten years old on the date that the defect is determined.

You can also get reimbursed for some repairs you made to address the recall issue prior to the recall going into effect. If you intend to be reimbursed for safety defects that you’ve paid to fix yourself, maintain all receipts and documentation you receive pertaining to the repairs.

Why does it matter?

While it is important to fix vehicle defects for obvious safety reasons, it is also an important step to take for your own legal protection. Ignoring a recall could make it difficult for a personal injury attorney to help you if you suffer subsequent injuries as a result of the defect.

In many states, vehicle owners are not required to disclose an existing recall when selling a vehicle, so it is important to be diligent about searching for recalls when you purchase a car. If you don’t, continue to drive the vehicle, and subsequently get injured as a result of the defect, it will be difficult for a personal injury attorney to help you seek compensation.

What if I’ve suffered injuries because of a vehicle defect?

There are several ways a personal injury case can arise from a vehicle defect. Each scenario needs to be handled differently, and it is usually best to have an attorney assist you in the event that you’ve been injured in a defective vehicle.

If a recall has been placed on your vehicle and you had prior injuries because of the defect that resulted in the recall, you can take independent legal action against the manufacturer for your injuries. A personal injury attorney can help you sort through a claim.

A more difficult situation, however, is when an injury occurs after a recall has been issued. It can be tempting to turn a blind eye to a vehicle recall, but if you’re injured in recalled vehicle, it could be difficult for an attorney to make your case. A court may say that you were aware of the risk and assumed the risk by driving the vehicle. In other words, by not getting your vehicle repaired, you may be liable for your own injuries.

Additionally, the timeline to file a lawsuit is often shorter than that of a recall. These timelines vary from state to state, and an attorney will be familiar with the process and deadlines. It’s best to find a personal injury lawyer near you who is familiar with the particular rules of your state regarding vehicle recalls.

Zinda Law Group has attorneys available to discuss the details of your case

A vehicle recall can be a major inconvenience, but it is important to know what to do if your vehicle was recalled. First and foremost, it is best to tend to the defect as soon as possible, for, as soon as an injury results from a recalled vehicle, the legal process becomes much more complicated. Checking on existing recalls when purchasing a vehicle, and promptly getting repairs taken care of when a recall is issued could save you a lot of difficulty down the road.

At Zinda Law Group, we don’t think finances should be a barrier to recovery for victims of an accident or incident involving a vehicle that has been recalled for one reason or another. You won’t pay a cent for our services unless you are compensated. That is Zinda Law Group’s “No Win, No Fee Guarantee.”

If you or someone you love has been injured in a recalled vehicle, contact Zinda Law Group. Call (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney today.

Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.