At times, a hazardous defect is discovered in a line of vehicles - that is to say a manufacturing flaw or error that affects a make and model that was manufactured in a particular year. Such safety defects in cars are often discovered by the vehicles manufacturer and by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as a result of complaints that were leveled by vehicle owners.
When the manufacturer of the vehicle or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discovers the defect in a specific car, motorcycle or other vehicle, the manufacturer is required to notify vehicle owners of the problem and provide the opportunity to fix the defect (e.g. by way of free repair). Federal laws govern safety recalls, so as to protect the end user.
The law defines a safety defects as a problem that:
- Poses safety risks in motor vehicles
- Exists in a group of cars or other vehicles of the same design or manufacture or equipment of similar type and make
In the event that no recall has been made by the manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the owner of a defective vehicle can bring forward a product liability claim with Anchorage law firms that handle product liability matters.
There are basic procedures that are followed during the process of a safety recall. Whether initiated by the manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the manufacturer has the duty to contact owners of the recalled vehicles. In order to reach all vehicle owners, Federal law requires that manufacturers do the following with respect to recalling the vehicles:
- Filing a public notice
- Searching for affected owners
- Sending out a notification letter to owners
Filing a public report of safety recall - the report must fully identify the vehicle or equipment that is affected by the recall and must contain the following description:
- The defect and the danger it could pose
- The major events that resulted in determining the recall
- The available remedy to vehicle owners
A recall schedule
Searching for vehicle or equipment owners - there are specific steps that are outlined by Federal law that a manufacturer should follow in trying to locate owners of recalled vehicles or equipment. If a vehicle is recalled the manufacturer has the duty to merge its own records of vehicle purchases with current state vehicle registration information. In the case of equipment, where registration is not available, the manufacturer must notify their distribution chain and anyone they know that bought the recalled equipment.
Providing owners with a notification letter - the notification letter must describe the defect, the risk or hazard posed by the defect, the remedy, state when the remedy will be available and state what the owner can do if the manufacturer does not correct the problem for free within a reasonable period of time.
Some available remedies that a manufacturer may choose so as to resolve the safety issue may include the following:
- Repair of the defect
- Repurchase of the vehicle or equipment by the manufacturer
- Replacement of the vehicle or equipment by the manufacturer