New Law Makes Selling Defective Cars Easier November 20, 2018
Buying a used car in Pennsylvania could soon become much riskier. A bill was recently passed requiring auto dealers to notify consumers of any open recalls on used vehicles being sold. Opponents of the bill claim that, far from protecting consumers, the bill actually makes it easier for dealers to sell potentially defective vehicles. A vehicle under recall may have a dangerous defect that can cause fatal car accidents.
House Bill 1898 was signed into law in June of 2018. The law requires car dealers to make a formal disclosure of any open recall on the vehicle’s make and model, as well as any repairs being offered by the manufacturer. Advocates of the bill, including numerous lawmakers and auto dealers, say that the law protects consumers by requiring that they be notified of potential risks at the time of purchase and allowing them to make an informed decision.
Bill Fails to Define Formal Disclosure
Despite what may be good intentions, however, the bill falls short in specifying how dealers must notify consumers of the recall. A few lines buried in a lengthy sale contract signed by the buyer would fulfill the requirement. Even if the buyer never sees it, these hidden lines in a contract would protect the dealer from legal action if the buyer wanted to sue over the defective vehicle. Opponents of the bill say that this loophole incentivizes dealers to sell defective vehicles, knowing they can protect themselves by doing the bare minimum. Dealers who fail to comply with the law would face a fine of only $1,000.
Federal law prohibits the sale of new vehicles that are under an open recall, but does not extend the same protections to used vehicles. Knowing about a recall and the free repairs that are available is often not enough to make a car worth buying. Recall repairs often take a long time due to the backlog of vehicles. For example, there are currently millions of customers waiting for replacements of airbags made by the Takata Corporation, which become more liable to explode as they age. The Takata recall is the largest auto recall in history, and there is no end in sight for consumers waiting for repairs.
Vehicles Under Recall Can Cause Deadly Accidents
Depending on the nature of the defect, it can be extremely dangerous to drive a vehicle under a recall. The Takata airbags have caused at least 24 fatalities, most of which involved Honda vehicles. In order to maintain sales, Honda used a similar tactic to the Pennsylvania bill in 2014, pressuring dealers to have consumers sign paperwork acknowledging that the vehicle had an unrepaired defect.
Philadelphia Product Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger Obtain Compensation for Victims of Defective Vehicles
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident involving a defective vehicle, call the Philadelphia product liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP. Our knowledgeable, experienced lawyers will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine who is at fault for your injuries and hold them accountable. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia, Allentown, Lancaster, and Reading, we help victims of auto defects throughout Pennsylvania. Call us today at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online to discuss your case with a Philadelphia product liability lawyer.