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Auto recalls address dangers on the road

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The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers consumers some resources to stay informed about product safety recalls.

Over the past few years, news of vehicle recalls have dominated the headlines, as automakers either voluntarily or were forced to take responsibility for releasing unsafe vehicles for sale to consumers.

Annually, automakers recall millions of their vehicles here in America. Many of those recalled vehicles are never repaired, however, and find their way into other owners’ hands with safety defects still present.

Consumers can reduce the likelihood of being killed or injured in a recalled vehicle by staying abreast of product recalls. Paying attention to tire and car seat recalls can also save lives.

Recalls are issued whenever NHTSA or the manufacturers themselves make the determination that a vehicle, its components or accoutrements fail to meet the minimum standards for safety or present safety risks that are unreasonable. The manufacturers have a duty to fix the problems by:

— Replacing it

— Repairing it

— Offering refunds

— Buying the vehicles back from the consumers

What does this mean to me?

When safety recalls arise, there is no charge to the owners for the remedies available to fix them, as provided by federal regulations like the Safety Act.

If you or a family member have already suffered injuries or losses from the recalled products, you have the right to seek compensation for your damages. Sometimes there will be one or more class action lawsuits opened to address these claims. However, claimants are free to opt out of the class and seek remuneration through separately filed litigation.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Safety in Numbers,” accessed Feb. 19, 2016

Jason Fuiman

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Co-Managing Partner and Chair of O'Dwyer & Bernstien's Labor & Employee Benefits practice, Jason has over twenty years of experience in the New York legal industry.