More than 52 million automobiles were recalled in the United States in 2016. In 2017, the number of recalled vehicles dropped to “only” about 30 million, including Fiat Chryslers, Hondas, Fords, Hyundais, and BMWs.

As a New Orleans product liability law firm, we know that vehicle recalls are seldom quick or efficient. Millions of consumers must be notified. Scores of injuries – and sometimes fatalities – can happen before a defective vehicle or part is identified, and a recall can be issued.

So, what can happen if a recalled vehicle is involved in an accident – and what is your recourse if you are injured in an accident that involves a recalled vehicle.

WHO’S LIABLE IN ACCIDENTS INVOLVING DEFECTIVE VEHICLES?

Here in Louisiana, the first and most important thing to know about crashes involving defective vehicles is that if you’re injured, you must be advised and represented by an experienced New Orleans personal injury attorney, and you’ll need to contact that attorney as quickly as possible.

In this state, an injured victim of negligence is entitled by law to full compensation for his or her medical bills, lost wages, personal pain, and more.

If an auto or auto parts manufacturer was negligent, or if a vehicle’s owner or driver was negligent, that party can be held liable and accountable for a victim’s injuries and damages.

HOW ARE VEHICLE OWNERS NOTIFIED ABOUT RECALLS?

Manufacturers are supposed to inform vehicle owners about recalls through certified mail, but if you relocate after buying a vehicle, or if you buy a used vehicle that is recalled, you may never receive a recall notification.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website (https://www.nhtsa.gov) offers current vehicle recall details. Dealerships will repair a defective vehicle or replace a defective part at no cost. If your vehicle is recalled, have it towed to the dealer – it is not safe to drive.

If an accident happens involving a recalled vehicle, and the owner was unaware of the recall or failed to respond to it, who is liable? If you are injured in an accident with a defective vehicle, what is your recourse? Can you be compensated for your injuries?

And who takes the blame if a recalled vehicle is involved in an accident and the vehicle’s owner failed to have the vehicle repaired?

WHAT MUST BE CONSIDERED IN CASES INVOLVING DEFECTIVE VEHICLES?

If a recalled vehicle is involved in a collision, the manufacturer or dealer will probably try to shift liability to the vehicle’s owner. A number of factors, however, will have to be considered in such cases.

A court will try to determine if the vehicle’s owner was aware of the recall and was reasonably able to act to have the vehicle repaired. A court will consider when the recall was issued, when the notification was sent, and whether the vehicle’s owner actually received a recall notification.

Even if the vehicle’s owner negligently ignored the recall notice or forgot to have the vehicle repaired, that does not necessarily release a manufacturer or dealer from liability.

A court will consider the clarity of the instructions sent to the owners along with the recall notification. A recall notice from a manufacturer must tell the owners what they need to do to resolve the vehicle’s safety issue.

If a vehicle recall notification lacked clear instructions, it could be argued that the vehicle’s owner did not know how to respond appropriately to the notification.

HOW WILL A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP YOU?

If you are injured in a Louisiana traffic accident involving a defective vehicle or vehicle part – whether or not that vehicle or part was formally recalled, and whether the defective vehicle or part was yours or the other driver’s – take your case to a good personal injury lawyer at once.

Your attorney will investigate your accident and injury to determine if a vehicle or parts manufacturer or dealer should be held liable for your losses, if the other driver or vehicle owner should be held accountable, or if liability should be shared.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO PREVAIL WITH A PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIM?

If your accident attorney recommends filing a product liability claim against a vehicle or vehicle part manufacturer or retailer, you and your attorney will have to prove at least one of these claims:

1. The part or vehicle was defective due to at least one design error.
2. The part or vehicle was defective due to at least one manufacturing error.
3. The manufacturer and/or dealer offered only inadequate instructions and warnings.

A product liability claim against an automobile manufacturer or an auto parts manufacturer must be handled somewhat differently than a personal injury claim against a negligent driver. You will need to be represented by an accident attorney with considerable product liability experience.

Here in Louisiana, an experienced New Orleans personal injury attorney will launch an immediate investigation of your accident, protect your rights, and explain your legal choices and options.

HOW ARE MOST CASES INVOLVING DEFECTIVE VEHICLES RESOLVED?

After determining which party should pay for your medical bills and related losses, your attorney will negotiate for the best possible settlement agreement. Most personal injury and product liability cases in this state are settled privately, by the attorneys, and outside of the courtroom.

It’s rare for a personal injury or product liability case to go to trial, but if a reasonable settlement offer is not made in the out-of-court negotiations, your attorney may recommend taking your case to trial and asking a jury to order the compensation you need and deserve.

But if your medical bills are piling up and you are not able to work, how will you be able to afford an attorney?

WHAT WILL IT COST AN INJURY VICTIM TO SEEK JUSTICE?

If you’ve been injured, most accident attorneys provide a free first consultation. You’ll learn how the law applies to your own case, and you’ll be able to make an informed decision about taking legal action.

Moreover, if you do move forward with a legal action, you will pay no attorney’s fee until and unless your attorney recovers compensation on your behalf. Louisiana’s personal injury attorneys work on a contingent fee basis, which allows every injury victim to have his or her day in court.

If you’re injured in a Louisiana traffic crash because someone else was negligent – an auto or parts manufacturer or an irresponsible motorist – put a good personal injury lawyer to work for you, and do it as quickly as you can. The right lawyer can make all the difference.