Vehicle Recalls


What to Know About Vehicle Recalls

Surprisingly, automobiles are recalled on a regular basis in the United States. Sometimes the recall is issued by the company, but most recalls are done by a mandate from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the Consumer Protection Agency. It’s important to understand this process as recalls are intended to save lives, and that might include yours and your family’s. For this reason, parts and car manufacturers are held to a strict liability standard.

Proving Negligence on the Part of the Manufacturer

A majority of the time, if the victim of a vehicle accident can prove that an auto manufacturer’s defective part or vehicle was responsible, they may be able to negotiate a settlement. When their personal injury lawyer DC settles the claim on their behalf, they can avoid the stress and cost of taking the defendant to court. However, the victim (plaintiff) must have a strong case to take to the negotiating table. The same is true if they end up in court. Proving negligence depends on meeting certain criteria:


  1. The manufacturer had a duty to provide a reasonable level of care to the victim.
  2. The manufacturer did not provide that care, thereby breaching their duty.
  3. The victim was injured as a result.
  4. The victim’s injury caused them to suffer in a measureable way.

Because vehicle crashes often result in serious injuries or even death, damages can be substantial in these types of claims.


Notification of a Recall

The vehicle or parts manufacturing company can use Department of Motor Vehicle records to determine who owns an affected automobile. In situations where a defective part is installed by several companies on several vehicle models, it can be an extensive recall. Owners are notified by mail and an explanation is provided regarding the defective part and how it can be repaired, including a service location. The owner then makes an appointment to have the vehicle inspected and repaired.


How to Identify Your Vehicle When No Notification is Received

The problem with the recall system is that many vehicle owners do not get notified for a variety of reasons. Very commonly, a vehicle has been owned by several people and they can get “lost” in the system. It is important to remember that older cars may also be recalled if the defective part has been used for an extended period of time. Luckily, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration maintains a recall database posted online at where vehicle owners can search to see if their car is listed in any defective part recall. A personal injury lawyer DC relies on can also use the list when investigating a car accident for multiple negligent parties such as the car manufacturer and a defective products manufacturer.


An aggressive and thorough attorney can make a major difference when vehicle malfunction is to blame for an accident. If you were involved in an accident caused by a defective vehicle or automotive part, even if you are not aware of any relevant recalls, contact a personal injury attorney and request a no-cost consultation.




Thanks to our friends and contributors from Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their insight into vehicle recalls and personal injury practice.