The Year of the Recall… and the Hefty NHTSA Fine

As the year comes to an end, the media will likely come up with several variations of “This has been the year of …” For those who have been paying attention to the world of product liability, particularly with respect to the automotive industry, this has been “The year of the recall.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency taxed with the task of promoting motor vehicle and highway safety and helping prevent automobile crashes, has been extremely busy this year.

In addition to fines and penalties levied by the NHTSA, there have also been a number of large recalls involving cars, trucks, and SUVs.

It Began in January With Honda

On January 8, the NHTSA levied a $70 million fine against Honda for its alleged failure to comply with laws that were designed to safeguard public safety. Interestingly, the press release associated with the Honda fine mentioned that, in the previous year alone (2014), the NHTSA had issued more than $126 million in civil penalties, which it said was more than the total amount that it had collected during its previous 43 years of total existence.

Later in January, some 2.12 million Acura, Dodge, Jeep, Honda, Pontiac, and Toyota vehicles were recalled due to a defect that could cause airbags to deploy inadvertently. Interestingly, the manufacturers had already attempted to fix the defect, but their efforts had proven ineffective in some vehicles.

In April, the agency advised owners of certain Fort Fiesta, Fusion, and Lincoln MKZ vehicles to take safety precautions after Ford recalled some 390,000 vehicles because of a defect in latches that they said could possibly allow doors to open unexpectedly.

And Continued Through December, Ending with BMW

The recalls and fines were not confined to cars, trucks, and SUVs. In August, the NHTSA issued a $2.9 million fine to Triumph due to their alleged failure to submit early warning reports concerning certain motorcycles. Several other major recalls and fines were issued throughout 2015, including a $40 million fine against BMW in late December for the company’s purported failure to meet federal safety requirements with regard to possible recalls of Mini Coopers that may have failed certain crash tests.

Not every product defect results in an injury or death, of course, but many do. For those who sustain catastrophic injuries in a car accident caused by a defective vehicle or lose a loved one because of a vehicle’s lack of crashworthiness, recalls and fines come as too little, too late. Fortunately, relief is available in the civil justice system for those who can make out a successful product liability claim.

For Help with a Defective Product Case

Thousands of injuries occur every year because of dangerous products, including automobiles with design flaws or manufacturing defects. If you or a loved one has been hurt because of a bad product, you should talk to a lawyer about filing suit to pursue monetary compensation for your injuries. To speak to an experienced Texas automotive product liability attorney, call the law offices of Earl Drott at (903) 531-9300. There is no charge for the initial case evaluation, and most cases are accepted on a contingency fee basis so that legal fees do not have to be paid up front. We accept clients throughout east Texas, including in Tyler and the surrounding area.

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