Defective car parts cause deaths, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, amputations, broken bones, and other serious injuries.
Car manufacturers must never place profit before the safety of the public. The families of deceased victims and injured traffic victims have the right to file a product liability lawsuit against manufacturers who make defective parts if the defect causes a death or an injury. There’s no need to prove negligence. The manufacturers are strictly liable for their poor design, faulty workmanship, and defective instructions.
Tesla, as reported by Reuters, recently announced that it was recalling nearly 6,000 of its vehicles due to concerns that the brake caliper bolts on some of its cars could come loose, which could cause the tires to lose pressure. The loose bolts “allow the brake caliper to separate and contact the wheel rim, which could cause a loss of tire pressure in ‘very rare circumstances.’”
This recall affects some of Tesla’s 2019-2021 Model 3 vehicles and some of the company’s 2020-2021 Model Y vehicles. Tesla notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that the company hadn’t received any reports of injuries or crashes. Tesla stated it will “inspect and tighten, or replace, the caliper bolts, as necessary.” The company indicated that it is taking steps to “prevent loosening of the bolts in the assembly process.”
Tesla did admit it became aware “in December of a field incident involving a 2021 Model Y vehicle with a missing fastener on the driver-side rear brake caliper.”
How many recalls has Tesla had?
According to CNBC, Tesla has been involved in several other recent recalls:
- In February 2021, Tesla recalled 36,126 Model S and Model X vehicles in Chinaand 134,951 cars in the U.S. The NHTSA requested the recall due to touch-screen defect.
- In 2010, Tesla recalled about 50,000 cars in China over faulty suspensionand 9,500 Model X and Model Y cars in the U.S. over roof and bolt issues.
- In 2018, Tesla voluntarily recalled 123,000 Model S vehiclesbecause of an issue with the power steering component.
What kinds of car recalls are there?
Recalls of cars, trucks, and other vehicles generally occur in one of the following ways:
- Mandatory recalls. The NHTSA initiates a recall after complaints to the federal agency and an investigation by the federal agency. If the NHTSA institutes a recall, the vehicle manufacturers must notify the registered owners by mail – explaining the reason for the recalls, why continued use of the vehicle is dangerous, and how the owner can get their car fixed (or a refund) – at no cost to the owner.
- Voluntary recalls. Here, the car manufacturer notifies the owners that their make and model is being recalled – along with the reasons the company is recalling the vehicles, the dangers, and the cost-free remedies. A manufacturer may institute a voluntarily recall completely through its own internal investigation or because it knows the NHTSA will likely issue a recall – and the company wants to be proactive.
When there is a recall, the recall notice should also be sent to all the distributors and sellers of the defective vehicles. These days, with technology, the recall notice is usually also published on the company website and in other media outlets.
Could a recall affect a lawsuit for a defective auto part?
Generally, the recall by itself does not automatically mean you have a product liability claim, even if you are injured while using the vehicle. Product liability cases require the following:
- The car part (or vehicle part) must be defective. Products can be defective due to faulty design, faulty workmanship (such as using cheap, subquality parts), or faulty instructions on how to use or operate the car part. Products are generally defective if they don’t conform to the intended design and increase the risk of an accident.
- The defect existed when you were using it. If your brakes fail while you are driving, and it leads to accident, you could have a claim.
- The defect led to your injuries. If your car has a defect that did not lead to you being injured, you cannot bring a claim.
- The car was in roughly the same condition as when it left the manufacturer. In order to hold a manufacturer liable, the defect must have existed from the start. In other words, if you caused the defect, you may be barred from filing a claim.
An experienced Georgia product liability lawyer normally works with auto engineers and other car product safety experts to verify that the product was defective at the time of the accident. These experts will usually examine the car (or a similar make and model). The recall (whether it’s mandatory or voluntary) is a strong indicator that your car was defective. The recall notice usually states why the vehicle is dangerous.
The recall notice itself doesn’t automatically mean you win your case. Your lawyer’s experts will need to explain, using industry standards, why your car was defective and why that defect caused your accident. Your lawyer will explain whether the recall notice can be introduced into evidence.
The voluntary issuance of a recall notice does not mean the car manufacturer isn’t liable for a product defect. The manufacturer must generally show more than just a recall was issued and that drivers were notified . The manufacturer also will need to show that you had actual notice of the defect and drove the car with knowledge of the defective car part.
If the manufacturer fails to issue a recall notice when it knows of a defective car part, and fails to instruct its distributors and sellers to issue the recall notice, the manufacturer may be liable for punitive damages in addition to your other damages. In personal injury cases, including product liability cases, the victims are entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering, medical bills, lost income, and property damage. Punitive damages are additional damages that are meant to punish the manufacturer for wantonly failing to protect car owners, drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and others who are hurt due to the defect.
The experienced product liability lawyers at Harris Lowry Manton LLP file product liability, breach of warranty, and negligent claims against manufacturers who sell defective cars. We have a strong record of success, including seven top-rated injury awards, helping families and victims obtain the just recoveries they deserve. To speak with a strong advocate, call our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847, our Savannah office at 912-417-3774, or reach out to us through our contact page to share your experience.
Jed Manton is committed to representing individuals and business that have been harmed by the actions of others. With a solid track record, Jed has helped numerous clients who have been seriously injured or who have lost a loved one obtain justice, while holding the wrongdoer accountable.
Read more about Jed D. Manton here.