Posted on behalf of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings on Feb 05, 2015 in Product Liability
Automakers have a responsibility to do everything in their power to inform consumers of problems in their vehicles and recalls that have been issued. They must take steps to reach all purchasers of their vehicles, which includes mailing notices, contacting dealerships, and posting information on their website.
What happens after a car has been sold, however? Dealerships and manufacturers often have no way of reaching the current owner of a vehicle which may have been sold several times over.
In these cases, a current vehicle owner may have no way of knowing that his or her vehicle is affected by a dangerous defect which needs to be corrected.
Minor Accident, Major Consequences
Carlos Solis IV, a 35-year-old father of two from Houston, was involved in a relatively minor collision which resulted in minimal damage to both vehicles. The airbag in Solis's Honda Accord deployed, and the inflator mechanism in the Takata air bag exploded, shooting shards of metal into Solis's neck. He died at the scene.
The faulty Takata airbag was a known defect which had been recalled in Solis's Honda Accord. According to a lawsuit filed by his surviving family, Solis did not know that he was driving with a defective air bag at the time of the collision. Had he known of the defect, he could have had the air bag replaced.
Solis's car, in particular, was in two accidents and had passed multiple state safety inspections without the defect being discovered. The car was sold to him in as-is condition, and the used car dealer argues that he was not obligated to check the recall records before its sale.
Recall Information Difficult to Get to Used Car Buyers
When a vehicle is recalled, that information is disbursed through several means, including through the news, through mailings to buyers and dealers, and on the manufacturers website. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also maintains a database of recalled vehicles organized by the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
It is up to the purchaser of a used car to check out any recall information, and not generally the responsibility of the seller. Many people argue that dealerships and used car sellers should be required to make sure a cars repairs are up-to-date before it is re-sold, but currently the law in Texas does not require this type of maintenance.
It remains to be seen if accidents like the tragedy which killed Mr. Solis will change the way used cars are sold. Until the law changes, all drivers need to make an effort to regularly check for recalls affecting their vehicles, and have any defects replaced or repaired promptly.
If you or your loved one was injured due to a defective automobile part, you may be able to sue for compensation for your injuries. At Stephens, Anderson & Cummings, our experienced Texas injury attorneys know how to make a case against auto manufacturers, and can help you and your family receive the justice you deserve.