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How do vehicle recalls work?

Imagine you purchased a brand-new vehicle from a reputable auto manufacturer. You expected it to be one of the safest cars on the road, but in reality, it had a serious defect that put your life at risk. Fortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandated a recall on your vehicle before you or a family member got hurt. Now, the vehicle manufacturer has to fix or replace your car free of charge.

When the NHTSA issues a vehicle recall, the manufacturer has a legal obligation to reach out to the owners of affected cars. Here's what the manufacturer's notification needs to state:

  • A complete description of the vehicle defect
  • A discussion of the risks caused by the defect and what owners need to watch out for
  • A description of how the manufacturer will fix the problem with instructions about how and when the car owner can get the vehicle fixed

In most cases, your vehicle repair will be carried out by a local dealer. Even if the manufacturer hasn't successfully reached out to you, it's important to get in touch with your local dealer after a recall to get your car fixed.

If you or a family member suffered a serious injury as a result of an automotive defect, the carmaker does not have an automatic obligation to pay for your damages. In fact, if you call the carmaker and ask for compensation, it's likely that the manufacturer will decline your request. On the other hand, if you use the services of a personal injury lawyer, your lawyer may be able to pursue financial claims against the manufacturer on your behalf.

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