How is Liability Assessed in a Collision Involving a Recalled Vehicle?

driver notified of vehicle recallMost collisions are due to driver error. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes a collision may be caused by a defective vehicle. A manufacturer could be held liable if their vehicle was defective and caused a collision, but who may be liable for damages in a collision involving a recalled vehicle?

Our legal team explains vehicle recalls in greater detail, including how a vehicle recall may affect an injury claim and how you can protect your rights if you were injured in a collision with a recalled vehicle. The initial consultation is free. There are no upfront fees involved.

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How Vehicle Recalls Work in Ontario

After a safety issue has been identified in a vehicle, and it is recalled for repairs, the manufacturer must notify vehicle owners of the make, model and year affected. This is in addition to dealers and distributors. The manufacturer is then required to fix the issue at no charge to the vehicle owner.

There are no assurances that a new vehicle purchased from a dealership will have no defects. A vehicle that was recalled may be sold without any requirement to repair the safety issue before it is given to the buyer.

Ontario does not have a law prohibiting the sale and registration of vehicles with open recalls prior to the repairs being made. In fact, this is the same across all provinces in Canada.

Transport Canada’s Motor Vehicle Safety Recalls Database allows you to check if your vehicle has or has had an open recall. Any safety-related defects in vehicles, tires and child car seats are reported to this agency.

Vehicle Was Defective but No Recall Issued

Manufacturers have a duty to ensure the safety of any vehicle, part or accessory they put on the market, protecting the public from unreasonable risk of accidents. This is similar to when you purchase a vehicle.

You have a right to reasonably expect the vehicle does not have a defect and that it is safe to operate. You also have a right to expect the vehicle to conform to the warranty and comply with the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. These expectations are protected under the law.

If your collision was caused by a defect or malfunction in your vehicle and there has been no recall listing that particular issue, the manufacturer of the vehicle may be liable for your damages. These damages may include medical bills, as well as lost wages if you missed work while recovering from your injuries.

Vehicle Owner Knew About Recall Before Collision

Liability is assessed differently when a collision is caused by a defect or safety issue for an existing recall. For instance, say the manufacturer has already issued a public recall and notified vehicle owners, dealers and distributors.

In the event of a collision, the manufacturer will likely argue that the vehicle owner knew or should have reasonably known about the recall. For the owner, this means that he or she had a chance to get the vehicle fixed but failed to.

Vehicle owners have a duty to keep up with proper vehicle maintenance – such as replacing old or worn out tires, getting routine oil changes, changing filters regularly and maintaining the cooling system.

A vehicle owner may share liability for a collision depending on certain factors:

  • How long since the vehicle owner got notified of the recall
  • The nature of the defect and its role in causing the collision
  • How the vehicle owner was notified about the recall
  • The clarity of instructions given about the vehicle recall
  • Proof that the vehicle owner was notified of the recall
  • If the vehicle owner had reasonable time to act before the collision

Even if you share some blame for what happened, it does not mean a manufacturer is released from all liability. You may still be able to pursue compensation. A Windsor auto accident lawyer is ready to protect your rights. We know what it takes to hold manufacturers accountable for their actions.

Vehicle Was Recalled After the Collision

A recall is often issued after a number of collisions report the same vehicle defect. The Takata airbag is the biggest vehicle recall in Canada to date. Over five million Takata airbags were recalled after reports the defective airbags can cause serious injury or death. Ford Motor Company has issued three safety recalls on several makes and models, impacting almost 42,000 vehicles in Canada.

If your collision was caused by a vehicle defect and there was a later recall on the same issue, your available legal options will depend on the steps you have since taken to pursue compensation. Perhaps you have already filed a claim through your insurer or taken legal action against the manufacturer. It is important to consult with a lawyer to determine the best course of action.

Greg Monforton & Partners is Here to Help

Our firm has been representing injured accident victims and their families for four decades. We have a strong track record, recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation on our clients’ behalf.

Contact us today to get answers to your legal questions. An initial consultation to learn if you may have a claim is free of charge. This meeting also carries no obligation to have us represent you.

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