The Associated Press and Fox News reported that the automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz has announced to federal regulators that it will be recalling about 85,000 of its model year 2010 and 2011 cars due to potential steering problems. Owners are being directed to return the cars to dealers for a free check of the power steering system. Defects in the power steering system can lead to a loss of power steering fluid, and ultimately, steering control. This recall brings to mind the recent Toyota recall involving problems with sudden, uncontrolled acceleration.
Here is what you should do if you suspect your vehicle is the subject of a recall:
1. Know the Facts
Before rushing to the dealership or panicking about how you are going to pick up junior from soccer practice, know the facts. Although factory recalls oftentimes are announced in general terms such as model year and model type, in reality, most recalls involve very specific models produced using specific parts or at specific locations. Due to the sophisticated nature of the production process, manufacturers generally know precisely what vehicles are subject to the recall based upon the unique vehicle identification number (VIN number) usually located on the driver’s side dashboard and visible through the windshield. Calling your local dealership with that VIN number handy is the first step to determining whether your vehicle is subject to a recall.
2. Determine Whether the Recall Involves a Critical Safety Component
If your vehicle is subject to a recall, the next thing you must do is to determine whether the recall involves a critical safety component such as steering, braking, acceleration, or passenger restraint. I oftentimes marvel at vehicle recall advisories stating that drivers may lose control while driving and then advising them to drive the vehicle to the dealership to have it inspected and/or fixed. That is asinine advice. If a vehicle’s critical safety component is subject to failure, DO NOT risk driving the vehicle. Even if you find yourself in the Burger King drive-thru when you receive the confirmation that your vehicle is part of the critical safety component recall, you should park the vehicle in a safe location as quickly and safely as possible. Then call the vehicle dealership and have them tow the vehicle to the service location for repair. If they balk at the towing charges, pay for it yourself and then call your lawyer. I guarantee that a $100 towing charge will be cheaper than getting into an accident, and in most instances, the dealership will pay the charge with some pressure.
3. Speak to a Lawyer if You Have Been Injured or Incurred Any Costs
It is a general principle of law that you are entitled to any damages or costs that have directly and foreseeably resulted from a manufacturing defect. However, there are limitations and each case is unique. If you have been injured as a result of a manufacturing defect, or if you have incurred any out-of-pocket costs as a result of the recall, contact an experienced trial attorney to discuss your rights.
This article has been written by attorney Christopher J. Cadem, an attorney at Cadem Law Group, PLLC. Mr. Cadem’s practice focuses on litigation matters in all Minnesota state and federal courts. He can be contacted at 218-739-HELP (4357) or online at www.CademLaw.com.