A recent article points out what many injury lawyers have known for a long time, auto safety and defect concerns are often kept quit by the automobile companies and government regulators.
Although car companies are required to tell National Highway Transportation Safety Administration about claims it receives concerning serious injuries and deaths in vehicles, information about the investigation and many of the injuries and deaths is only available to the public and news media through a Freedom of Information Act request. Further, car manufacturers can request the information they submit to the agency be kept confidential.
The NHTSA conducts informal investigations and months can go by before problems are brought to the public’s attention. According to the article, these informal investigations are becoming more common.
The article lists the following examples:
• Hyundai recalled some of its Veracruz and Santa Fe SUVs in August 2011 because their air bags might not inflate in a crash. There was no public investigation or incidents, but in announcing the recall, Hyundai said it had been contacted by NHTSA about its nearly 8,000 warranty claims and 16 consumer complaints.
• Evenflo and NHTSA recalled more than 1 million Discovery child car seats in January 2008. But consumers didn’t know the agency had been testing the seats for nearly a year because of concerns about how the seats fared in crash tests.
• And in November 2011, NHTSA announced it was opening a formal investigation of Chevrolet Volts – although it had been quietly testing Volts for six months after a car caught fire weeks after a crash test. The agency said it didn’t consider that an investigation.
These investigations should not be secret and the public should know about them as they occur. Additional car drivers and passengers could be harmed due failure of the public to know of vehicle defect issue and safety concerns.
If you or a family member has any questions about auto defect and safety issues, please contact an Arkansas car crash lawyer to discuss your issue and determine what can be done legally for you and your family.