Defects can and do occur in motor vehicles, jeopardizing the well-being of drivers and passengers alike. This article aims to shed light on your rights as a consumer and the legal options available when faced with a defective vehicle, while also providing nationwide and North Carolina-specific statistics on vehicle recalls and related accidents.
Nationwide Defective Vehicle Recall Statistics:
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA website), there were over 38 million vehicles recalled in the United States in 2020 alone.
- In North Carolina, the NCDOT (NCDOT website) reported that defective vehicle-related accidents accounted for a significant portion of overall traffic accidents in recent years.
Your Rights Relating To Defective Vehicle Recalls As A Consumer:
When a vehicle is recalled due to safety concerns, consumers have certain rights to ensure their safety and well-being. These rights include:
- Notification: Manufacturers are obligated to notify owners about recalls promptly. This notification typically comes in the form of a letter, providing information about the defect, potential risks, and steps to remedy the issue.
- Free Repairs: Vehicle manufacturers are required to offer free repairs or replacements for defective components. This ensures that consumers can address safety concerns without incurring additional costs.
- Reimbursement for Repairs: In some cases, if a consumer has already paid for repairs related to a recall, they may be eligible for reimbursement. Manufacturers are responsible for covering reasonable costs associated with addressing the defect.
- Right to File a Complaint: If a consumer experiences safety issues related to a vehicle defect, they have the right to file a complaint with the NHTSA. This helps regulatory authorities monitor and address potential widespread safety concerns.
- Legal Recourse: If a defective vehicle leads to an accident causing injuries or property damage, consumers have legal options to pursue compensation. Consulting with experienced attorneys, such as those at Kellum Law Firm, can provide valuable guidance in such situations.
5 Most Common Types of Accidents Due to Defective Vehicles:
- Brake Failures: Defective brakes can lead to accidents when drivers are unable to stop or slow down as needed. This poses a serious threat to both the driver and other road users.
- Tire Blowouts: Tire defects, such as tread separation or manufacturing flaws, can result in sudden blowouts, causing loss of control and potential accidents.
- Faulty Airbags: Malfunctioning airbags can deploy unexpectedly or fail to deploy in a collision, compromising the safety of vehicle occupants.
- Steering System Malfunctions: Defects in the steering system can lead to loss of control, making it challenging for drivers to navigate safely, especially at high speeds.
- Acceleration Issues: Acceleration defects, such as unintended acceleration, can result in uncontrollable speeds, posing a significant risk of accidents.
5 Most Common Types of Injuries Due to Defective Vehicles:
- Whiplash Injuries: Whiplash is a common injury resulting from accidents involving defective autos, particularly those with faulty safety features. Sudden accelerations, decelerations, or airbag malfunctions can contribute to whiplash, causing strain and damage to the neck and spine.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs): Defective airbags, seatbelts, or vehicle structures can lead to more severe accidents, causing traumatic brain injuries. Impact forces and insufficient safety mechanisms can result in head injuries with varying degrees of severity.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Malfunctions in vehicle safety systems, such as seatbelt failures or inadequate crash structures, can contribute to spinal cord injuries. These injuries can lead to paralysis or long-term impairment, significantly impacting the quality of life.
- Fractures and Broken Bones: Defective vehicle components, such as poorly designed crumple zones or inadequate restraint systems, can increase the risk of fractures and broken bones in accidents. Inadequate protection can leave occupants vulnerable to impact forces.
- Soft Tissue Injuries: Faulty seatbelts, airbags, or poorly designed interior features can contribute to various soft tissue injuries, including contusions, bruises, and internal injuries. Inadequate safety measures may expose occupants to greater risks during collisions.
What About The ‘Lemon Law’ In North Carolina?
In North Carolina, the Lemon Law provides crucial protection to consumers who find themselves grappling with persistent issues in newly purchased vehicles. While the Lemon Law primarily addresses defects that impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety, it becomes particularly relevant in the context of car accidents caused by such defects. If a vehicle is determined to be a lemon—meaning it has substantial defects that the manufacturer cannot repair within a reasonable number of attempts—the consumer is entitled to a refund or a replacement vehicle. This protection is paramount in cases where defects contribute to accidents, jeopardizing the safety of the driver and others on the road. North Carolina’s Lemon Law serves as a legal recourse for consumers to address the consequences of defective vehicles, fostering accountability within the automotive industry.
From the North Carolina Department of Justice website:
The North Carolina Lemon Law, also known as the New Motor Vehicles Warranties Act (N.C.G.S. 20-351), applies to new passenger cars, pick-up trucks, motorcycles and most vans bought in North Carolina. It requires manufacturers to repair defects that affect the use, value, or safety of a new motor vehicle within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles (whichever comes first).
When a car accident occurs due to a defect in a recently purchased vehicle, North Carolina’s Lemon Law becomes a pivotal tool for affected consumers. Whether the defect lies in the brakes, steering, airbags, or other critical safety components, the Lemon Law empowers consumers to seek resolution. If the defect substantially impairs the vehicle’s safety and the manufacturer is unable to rectify the issue after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the consumer may be eligible for relief. This relief can take the form of a full refund or a replacement vehicle, ensuring that consumers are not left dealing with the ongoing risks and consequences of a defective vehicle that played a role in an accident.
Consulting with experienced legal professionals, such as those at Kellum Law Firm, can guide consumers through the intricacies of invoking the Lemon Law in North Carolina, securing the justice and compensation they deserve in the aftermath of a car accident involving a defective vehicle.
Navigating the aftermath of a defective vehicle-related incident requires experienced legal guidance. At Kellum Law Firm, our auto accident team is dedicated to protecting the rights of North Carolina consumers affected by defective vehicles. If you or a loved one has experienced harm due to a defective vehicle, contact us for a free confidential consultation, and let us guide you toward the legal solutions you deserve. Your safety is our priority.