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What is a safety-related defect when it comes to cars?

Consumers expect automobiles to be safe. All safety features should work properly, and there should be no defects that put motorists at an unreasonable risk of being in an accident. Unfortunately though, car manufacturers still put vehicles on the market that are dangerous. For this reason, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has set rules regarding when such vehicles must be recalled.

One reason for a vehicle recall is when the vehicle possesses a safety-related defect. Such a defect is defined by law and includes any defect in construction, performance, equipment, or component. If the defect creates risk associated with motor vehicle safety and there is a likelihood that the defect exists in a group of similar vehicles. When we say that the defect threatens motor vehicle safety, this means the defect endangers the vehicle's performance or equipment in a way that places the public at unreasonable risk of being in an accident, and perhaps at risk of serious injury or death.

Safety-related defects can be wide-ranging. Fuel system problems, sticky accelerators, broken windshield wiper assemblies, seats that suddenly recline for no reason, incorrect wiring, and defective airbags can all pose a significant hazard to drivers and others on the road, warranting a recall.

Though recalls may help keep people safe, the fact of the matter is that far too often recalls come too late, after damage has already been done. Those who suffer harm caused by defective car parts can seek to recover their losses by filing a product liability lawsuit. By taking action against a negligent company, a victim may be able to find a sense of closure and compensation for any medical expenses and other damages that resulted from the unsafe products.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Motor Vehicle Defects and Safety Recalls: What Every Vehicle Owner Should Know," accessed on June 19, 2015

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