Voluntary Auto Recalls: 2010 Was a Record Year

A key federal agency recently released data detailing the number of auto recalls last year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2010 was a record high year for voluntary motor vehicle recalls.

Of the 20.3 million vehicles that were recalled last year, 14.9 million were involved in voluntary recalls. This was a considerable increase from the 8.5 million voluntarily recalled vehicles in 2009.

2010 was also the first time that three of the five top manufacturers with the most recalls were Japanese companies. Toyota led the pack with 17 individual recalls affecting 6.7 million vehicles in 2010. General Motors, Honda, Nissan and the Chrysler Group were the other manufacturers with the highest number of recalled vehicles.

The increase in recalls is a direct result of an increase in auto defects. This is unnerving, because auto defects can cause serious car accidents. However, NHTSA is optimistic that auto manufacturers are taking potential safety hazards seriously and coming forward to the NHTSA to initiate a recall.

Why Are Vehicles Recalled?

Recalls are considered voluntary if they are not a result of an NHTSA investigation. Vehicle manufacturers are actually required by law to report any potentially dangerous defects as soon as they become aware of them. For a defect to warrant a recall, it must pose a risk to safety and the vehicle must be one of a large number of vehicles with the same design and defect.

Consumer Rights within a Recall

If your vehicle is declared defective you have the right to have it fixed, and most likely free of charge. The manufacturer is required to take steps to be sure that this right is fulfilled. They must notify registered owners of vehicles affected by a recall by mail in a reasonable amount of time. Then the owner's information is passed along to state Motor Vehicle Departments to contact the owners and provide further information on what repairs are needed and how they can be obtained.

The most important element in vehicle defect liability cases is crashworthiness, or the vehicle's ability to protect occupants from injuries in the case of a collision. Crashworthiness is used to hold vehicle manufacturers liable for any injuries sustained during a crash in which the defect either caused the crash or further worsened the injuries sustained in the crash.

If you have been injured as a result of a defective motor vehicle, contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately.