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Auto Defects and Vehicle Recalls Lawyer

heavy road traffic sceneAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the year 2014 is one for the books in terms of automobile recalls and defects. Unbelievably, over 37.5 million vehicles were recalled as of June 2014 – representing an unprecedented number of potentially poor designs and defectively manufactured parts. A defective vehicle places the driver, passengers and all others on the roadway at an unnecessarily increased risk of danger, which explains the decision by General Motors to set aside at least $400 million to compensate those injured by its recent recall.

If you have experienced a recent physical or financial injury as a result of one of the innumerable recent auto recalls, you may be able to partake in some of the set-aside financial reserves for injured plaintiffs – and the product liability lawyers at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye can help you obtain the recovery you deserve.

Dangers of defective automobiles

When a motor vehicle is barreling down the freeway at a steady 65 miles per hour, a sudden defect or broken part can quickly lead to disastrous (or fatal) consequences. Makers of consumer goods are under a duty to design, manufacture and label products in such a way so as to protect buyers and their household members from an unreasonable risk of injury. If a product maker, such as a car manufacturer, fails to address these risks or willfully ignores the potential for harm, it could face significant liability.

An auto defect lawsuit can be triggered by any (or all) of the three general product liability causes of action. First, an automaker can be liable for failing to warn consumers as to the potential for risk. Known simply as a “failure to warn” case, these causes of action are successful when the plaintiff can show that the auto maker knew (or should have known) that its vehicles carried some trait or factor that could cause injury, but did nothing about it to protect consumers.

Second, an auto defect lawsuit can allege the car was defectively designed, which may require testimony from automotive and engineering experts as to what constitutes a properly designed vehicle.

Lastly, your auto defect attorney can allege that the vehicle was manufactured improperly, resulting in an unreasonable risk of harm.

In addition to negligence, your auto defect lawyers may advance any of the following causes of action:

  • Breach of express warranty
  • Breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose
  • Strict product liability

Types of auto defects

Automotive defects and vehicle recalls can occur for any number of reasons. General Motors is facing significant liability issues surrounding the installation of faulty ignition switches in several of its smaller-sized vehicles. Specifically, the automaker must answer at least 13 separate lawsuits stemming from injuries or death linked to the ignition switch problem – and was forced to pay am eight-figure fine to the Department of Justice for failing to act on its knowledge of the ignition switch problem for close to ten years.

General Motors also recently recalled 30,000 Saab 9-3 convertibles, citing problems with the seat belt and its automatic retraction cable.

Ford Motor Company has also issued several thousand recall notices this year, many due to problems with powertrain brakes and fuel tank liners.

Other auto defects possibly giving rise to a claim for damages include:

  • Sudden acceleration
  • Brake failure
  • Rollover
  • Faulty parking brake, causing sudden rolling
  • Defective seatbelts
  • Over- or under-inflated airbags
  • Improperly-designed roofs
  • Defective tires or other components

Filing an auto recall lawsuit

One of the first considerations of a thorough vehicle recall lawyer is whether an applicable statute of limitations applies to bar a plaintiff’s claim.

With respect to auto defect claims, the NHTSA has designated a 10-year window within which an auto maker must correct a defect for free. With regard to personal injuries sustained due to a defect-related auto accident, New York law imposes a three-year statute of limitations from the date the injury occurred.

A similar statute of limitations applies to claims under New York’s product liability laws, however a shorter two-year window applies in the event of a wrongful death.

The statute of limitations may be expanded (also known as “tolling”) if any of the following situations apply during the three-year period:

  • Absence from the jurisdiction
  • Mental incapacity
  • Active duty military service
  • You were a minor at the time of your injury. In this case, you will have three years from the date you turned 18.

Liability in a vehicle recall lawsuit

An automotive defect judgment or settlement can result in sizable compensation for your injuries. By filing a lawsuit, you can seek actual, general and (in some cases) punitive damages from the defendant. Actual damages are those quantifiable expenses that you incurred that you otherwise would not have had to pay but for your accident. This includes lost wages, future earnings, medical expenses and property damage.

General damages are awarded to compensate you for your pain and suffering, mental anguish and emotional turmoil experienced as a result of the incident. Punitive damages are available in limited circumstances in order to address intentional or malicious conduct, and are awarded above and beyond your actual and general damages.

Recent auto defect settlements

In the largest automotive criminal settlement to date, Toyota recently remitted $1.2 billion to the Department of Justice as a result of its finding that the automaker knew of defects with its accelerators and failed to warn consumers – possibly resulting in up to 12 deaths.

In July 2014, a jury awarded $55 million to a Pennsylvania man paralyzed after his SUV rolled over, causing his skull to collide with the roof. In July 2013, a jury in Vermont awarded a paralyzed woman $43 million after concluding her driver’s seat was defective. The plaintiff was left completely disabled following an accident occurring at just 35 miles per hour.

Contact the auto recall lawyers at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye is a preeminent New York law firm serving the needs of injured clients and their families. If you were recently injured as a result of a defective or faulty automobile, we encourage you to contact us for information on how you can obtain fair and adequate compensation. To talk to a personal injury attorney, call 800-469-7429 today.

  1. Bloomberg.com, The year is half over and auto recalls have broken record, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-08/the-year-is-half-over-and-auto-recalls-have-broken-record.html
  2. LA Times, Ford adds Flex, Taurus, Escape, Lincoln and Police cards in wave in recalls, http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-ford-recall-flex-escape-lincoln-20140708-story.html
  3. Bloomberg.com, GM sets aside at least $400 million for ignition recall victims http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-24/gm-sets-aside-at-least-400-million-for-ignition-recall-victims.html
  4. Autonews.com, GM recalls nearly 30,000 Saab 9-3’s, http://www.autonews.com/article/20140710/COPY01/307109936/gm-recalls-nearly-30000-saab-9-3-convertibles
  5. NY Times, Toyota reaches $1.2 billion settlement in criminal inquiry, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/20/business/toyota-reaches-1-2-billion-settlement-in-criminal-inquiry.html?_r=0
  6. PennRecord.com, Jury awards accident victim $55 million over defective seatbelt, http://pennrecord.com/news/14264-jury-awards-accident-victim-55-million-over-defective-seat-belt