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Used cars are typically cheaper and sometimes a better way to spend your money because cars depreciate in value so quickly. Unfortunately, many used car dealers don’t want to fix deadly defects. As a result, they’ve written a law to avoid it. In fact, many unsuspecting buyers are driving ticking time bombs. 

Such was the case for a 35-year-old father who purchased a used Honda Accord. Carlos Solis was waiting to make a left turn in a Houston suburb when another car struck the front end of his car, triggering its airbags. Solis was unaware that his vehicle was equipped with recalled Takata airbags. Rather than protecting him, his airbags shot shrapnel into his neck, severing his carotid artery. 

The story of Carlos Solis is just one example of used car dealers selling vehicles without fixing dangers or warning about vehicle recalls. 

Over the last five years, used car dealers have been preparing for a barrage of lawsuits. Rather than fixing the recalls, the dealers planned to preempt the problem by drafting a recall disclosure that is being used as model legislation in several states. The legislation allows dealers to continue selling recalled used cars, as long as the disclose open recalls to customers somewhere in a stack of sales documents. 

So far, at least 11 states have introduced versions of the auto dealers’ copycat recall disclosure bills:

  • California
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia

Only Tennessee and Virginia have adopted these bills, however, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey and New York still have such measures under consideration. 

What effect does the copycat recall disclosure bill have on victim’s rights?

Essentially, the bill gives used car dealers a way to make a quick profit while leaving out any requirement to actually fix defects before reselling dangerous vehicles. In other words, auto dealers have a new legal argument when trying to fend off lawsuits. With a recall disclosure, it’s legal to sell used cars with active recalls.

This is dangerous for two reasons. 

The first, it puts the needs of auto dealers to make a profit above the health and safety of the general public. This is evidenced by the fact that proponents of these bills say that anything other than disclosure, such as a requirement to fix the vehicles before reselling them, would devastate in the bottom of line of auto dealers. Putting business and profits above the health and safety of society continues to be a problem. People are killed or injured because lawmakers are more influenced by lobbyists than by protecting individuals.  

Secondly, simply disclosing a recall will more than not get the problem fixed. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are at least 53 million vehicles on the road now with recalls that have not been addressed. This means one in every four cars on the road has a recall. 

How effective would a recall disclosure be?

Moreover, a recall disclosure will be glossed over and a buyer may not realize the importance of the recall. If you’ve ever financed a car from a dealer, you may be aware that toward the end of the process, you sit down and sign a lot of paperwork. The dealer’s financier often moves through their rehearsed verbal disclosures at the speed of light, not giving you time to read over the documents you’re signing, as they tell you to initial here and sign at the bottom. The copycat recall disclosure bills being introduced across the country will simply require the recall notice to be apart of this portion of the car buying experience. Because of all the information being thrown at them, it’s easy for a buyer to miss the importance of recall that is now on them to have repaired. 

What will be a more effective policy?

A bill that requires auto dealers to address recalls, dash lights and other items before reselling a vehicle would be the best way to ensure that buyers are getting what they’re paying for. Dealers often purchase vehicles from buyers for far less than they resell the vehicle for. Ensuring that vehicles are safe before customers drive them off the lot is not too much to ask for. 

What is the Takata Airbag Recall?

The Takata airbag recall is the largest auto defects recall in history. At least, 41.6 million vehicles have been recalled affecting about 56 million Takata airbag inflators. 

Takata airbag inflators have a serious and fatal defect. The company used a cheap propellant inside the inflators that degrades over time. The propellant’s degradation is sped up in warm, humid climates such as the southern United States and California. Additionally, the faulty propellant causes the inflator to explode when the airbag deploys. As a result, scrap metal launches at the drivers or passengers inside of the vehicle. 

NHTSA has confirmed at least 16 people in the United States have been killed because of Takata defective airbags. An additional 250 people have been injured by the company’s exploding inflators. 

The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

The Carlson Law Firm is accepting Takata airbag cases from all 50 states. If you or a loved one suffered serious or fatal injuries contact us today. You could be in a position to take legal action. We are ready to get you and your family the justice you deserve. 

Contact us as soon as possible to schedule your free consultation.

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