Driving a Car under a Recall Notice – Is There Additional Responsibility in a Car Accident?
Driving a car unavoidably brings with it risks of death or injury if the driver gets into an accident, and typically brings personal injury lawsuits. However, such risks seem relatively controlled as long as the car is in good working order and the driver is careful. But, what happens when the car has faulty parts or malfunctions because of something done by the manufacturer? Who is responsible in that case? News reports on recent scandals among car manufacturers for things like using defective air bags and manipulating software to improve results during emissions testing are well-known to most drivers. It would not be unreasonable for the drivers of these cars to feel unsafe and question whether it is even possible to sell the vehicle given its history. These concerns are being acknowledged as legitimate based on a recent news story on LegalNewsline.com that discusses a decision by a federal judge in Miami to allow a class action lawsuit to continue against Takata and Honda for the installation defective airbags where owners are asking for damages related to bodily injury and economic losses. Given the number of vehicles involved in recent recalls and the extended length of time it will take to fix each one, it is worth considering how knowledge of a recall notice affects a person’s liability in a car accident.
Typically, when people get injured due to an issue of product design or safety, the party responsible for the injuries is the manufacturer under the legal doctrine of strict liability. This doctrine says that if a manufacturer designed or made a product in such a way that it fails to perform as intended or expected and injury results, the maker is liable without a specific finding of fault for a particular injury. In other words, the main focus is on the product itself and not the behavior of the maker. Under Florida law, the focus, in particular, is on whether the product is in a condition that is unreasonably dangerous. Something is considered to be unreasonably dangerous if it fails to operate as an ordinary user would expect or in way that the manufacturer would not have foreseen. So, when it comes to an accident that was caused by an exploding airbag, most consumers would assume the manufacturer would be liable, but it is not that simple.
When it comes to deciding who is at fault in an accident and who consequently should be responsible for any injuries or damages, courts will first look at whether a party was negligent and then determine if another party contributed to that negligence. If more than one party is at fault, the doctrine of contributory negligence comes into play. This doctrine holds that if more than one party shares blame for an accident liability will be divided among them. For drivers of vehicles under a recall notice, if you decide to delay or ignore the notice to bring your vehicle in for repairs and later get into an accident, you could be held partially responsible for the accident because you knew about the unsafe nature of your car and consciously chose not to take the steps necessary to fix it. This rule would apply even if the defective part instigated the crash, so it is important to take action once you know about the defective part to limit the risk of financial responsibility.
Seek Legal Help
A car accident can be an overwhelming experience for both drivers and can produce long-term physical and mental injuries that cannot be ascertained in the moments just after the accident occurred. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer is important to recovering the money you may need for medical bills and lost time at work. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado offers personal injury representation in a wide range of matters. Contact us to schedule your confidential consultation.