Does Failing to Address a Car Recall Alert Affect My Car Accident Claim?

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For the past year or so, headlines have been dominated with news about various automobile recalls to replace defective automobile parts.  It can be difficult for an average person to keep track of whether her vehicle is subject to a recall and, if so, what she should do about it.  Suppose a driver in South Carolina owns and drives a vehicle that is subject to a recall for a defective part that can make the vehicle accelerate uncontrollably without notice.  If the driver then gets into a car accident as a result of this defect, would this impact their ability to obtain compensation for their injuries?

Many Questions Need to Be Answered

In this difficult situation, a number of questions would need to be answered before any attorney could say whether this particular individual has a claim for compensation.  Some of the relevant questions that must be answered include:

  • Did the driver know about the recall?  The most basic question that must be answered in this situation is whether the driver even received notice of the recall.  If not, then the driver cannot be faulted for not knowing that they needed to have their vehicle serviced to correct the defective part.
  • When did the driver know about the recall?  Assuming the driver did receive notice of the recall (perhaps via a mailer or letter informing them of the defective part and the need for repair), the next logical question is when the driver received this notification in relation to the crash.  If the driver received notification the day before the crash, then it is less likely that the driver’s failure to correct the defect will impact their personal injury case.
  • How clear were the instructions?  The recall notice should be accompanied by instructions telling the driver what she needs to do in response to the recall notice.  In most cases, the instructions will tell the driver to contact the local car dealership and schedule an appointment to have the defective part repaired or replaced.  A recall notice that does not include specific directions to the driver can be confusing and leave the driver wondering what he or she should do.  If a recall notice is not clear, then a driver’s failure to respond appropriately to the notice may be excused.
  • How reasonable were the driver’s actions?  Finally, the driver’s actions in response to a timely and clear recall notice will be analyzed.  If the driver took appropriate action and the accident still occurred, then the driver’s failure to have the defect fixed may play little role in limiting the driver’s compensation.  For example, if the driver called the dealership but was told to keep driving the car until the dealership could order the necessary parts, then it is difficult to apportion fault the driver when the defective part causes an accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a South Carolina car accident, contact the Greenville, SC auto accident attorneys at the law firm of David R. Price, Jr., P.A. by phone or through our firm’s website to schedule a free initial consultation and learn how we may be able to assist you in recovering compensation for your injuries.

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