It has been reported Takata’s defective airbag inflators have now killed a sixth person. Carlos Solis IV was driving a 2002 Honda sedan when he became involved in a relatively minor collision with a 2003 Infiniti G35. The airbag in the Solis car exploded, sending pieces of metal into his neck. The 2002 Honda was purchased by Solis from a used-car dealership in Cypress, Texas, but he was not informed that it was subject to a recall.
The original owner of the Honda Accord had received several mailed recall notifications starting in 2011 but never took the car in to be repaired. The Accord was also included in the June 2014 recall that covered high-humidity regions, including Texas. That recall was later expanded to cover 5.4 million vehicles nationwide. Still, the Accord was never repaired.
A recall is only successful if manufacturers, consumers and dealerships work together. Manufacturers must issue effective notifications and follow up on those notifications. Consumers must voluntarily return the car to dealerships for repairs. Dealerships must efficiently repair the defects subject to recall. Locating and notifying affected customers can take weeks or months, and actually getting the repairs done can take much longer, depending on the availability of parts. Meanwhile, used cars aren’t subject to many of the consumer-protection laws that prevent the sale of recalled vehicles.
Honda does not dispute that Solis was never informed of the recalls. April Strahan, the lawyer for the Solis Family, says the lack of urgency and follow-up exposes serious flaws in the recall system. She said further:
There’s insufficient tracking of the recall notifications that are sent to the dealerships as well as the owners of the vehicle, and there’s virtually no follow-up, she said, noting that the system has no way to confirm that recall notices are received by owners.
Consumers who purchase used cars are especially vulnerable to defects that are subject to recalls. It appears that there is no federal law that requires a dealer to repair or disclose the presence of an open recall prior to the sale of a used vehicle. That’s the position taken by Steve Jordan, executive vice president of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, a trade group representing used-car dealers.
Instead, to find out that his Accord had been recalled, Solis, the owner in this case, would have had to type the VIN into online databases managed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or an automaker. Mr. Jordan added:
Right now, the three entities that control the recall data are the federal government, OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] and the franchised new-car dealers. Currently, used-car dealers do not have any more access to open recall data than consumers do. We feel as an association that the system is hugely flawed.
Lawyers in our firm are currently investigating cases involving a Takata airbags. They are looking at cases that resulted in catastrophic injury or death. Several lawyers in the firm are working on these cases. For more information on this subject, contact Cole Portis, who heads up our firm’s Product Liability Section, at 899-898-2034 or by email at Cole.Portis@beasleyallen.com.
Source: Automotive News
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