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The Big Auto Defect Cover Up

When we get in and drive a car, we have certain expectations. We expect, not hope, that we make it safely to our destinations. We expect our loved ones and our passengers to be protected in the event of a crash. We expect that our vehicles are safe enough and "crashworthy" enough to shield us in case we are involved in a collision. However, a mounting body of evidence suggests that while automakers are more than anxious to advertise their vehicles as "safe" and "family-friendly," they are not ready to back up those assertions with an investment in safety.

We live in an age in which technology is readily available to make vehicles safer than ever. But the evidence shows that some automakers choose to manufacture vehicles with known hazards. Even if it costs them just a few dollars to make that change and enhance safety for consumers, these automakers choose to put profits over consumer safety. Profits are also the reason some automakers have gone to great lengths to cover up serious auto defects that have the potential to catastrophically injury or even kill vehicle occupants.

A Secretive Process

Automakers are required to promptly report any safety defects concerning their vehicles to the government under the Transportation Recall, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act, a federal law that was enacted in late 2000. Under this law, vehicle manufacturers must report recalls to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and they must alert the agency to reports of defects linked to serious injuries or deaths.

Automakers are required to tell NHTSA about claims they receive about serious injuries and deaths connected to their vehicles. NHTSA can also investigate these claims. But information about these probes and many of the injuries and deaths is only available to the media and the public through a Freedom of Information Act request. Even so, manufacturers can request the information they submit to the agency to be kept confidential.

There is information posted on NHTSA's website about potential defects, injuries and deaths relating to official probes the agency has launched. However, there are a number of informal investigations done behind closed doors, where weeks or months can pass before potential problems are brought to the public's attention. This means that consumers may not learn that vehicles they own or vehicles they are considering buying, have quietly raised safety concerns at NHTSA and among carmakers.

What Goes on Behind the Scenes?

Federal laws are supposed to be designed to prevent secrecy, especially the kind that can harm the public. And yet, these regulations are written in ways that enable such secrecy. For example, what signals the start of a formal public investigation into an auto defect falls into a gray area. This gives federal investigators significant latitude when they want to work behind the scenes with the automakers they regulate. The information that would be available to consumers and safety advocacy groups if such investigative work were public includes testing, all correspondence with automakers, and a record of injuries and fatalities. But, delaying or deciding against starting a formal investigation helps automakers save the bad publicity that comes from public investigations. A "public" investigation is only opened when the agency has a "reasonable belief" that a defect may have occurred.

Public safety advocates ask an important question: Who is the NHTSA protecting - consumers or automakers? Advocates point out that since the hue and cry over Toyota sudden acceleration issues in 2009, NHTSA's defects office has opened far fewer public investigations in each of the last few years than it has in the previous two decades. Safety advocates are questioning if the reason for that is because more investigations are being conducted under the cloak of secrecy to protect automakers from the harsh glare of public scrutiny.

The Role of Auto Defect Attorneys

It is a fact that serious auto defects often surface only when consumers decide to hold the automakers liable. Take the examples of some of our nation's largest auto recalls - the Ford Explorer/Firestone fiasco and Toyota's sudden/unintended acceleration problems. Recently we've learned that General Motors may have covered up defects relating to defective ignitions that have been linked to 13 deaths and many more injuries.

NHTSA has documents including memos in its possession that GM knew at least a decade ago that these ignitions were defective. But they deliberately dodged and stalled issuing a recall. Toyota, billed as the manufacturers of the most reliable car in the world, had their credibility called into question when internal memos showing their knowledge of vehicle defects relating to sudden acceleration surfaced.

As auto defect lawyers, we at BISNAR CHASE have taken it on ourselves to expose and shed light on the facts and realities automakers don't want you to know. We are determined to blow the lid off these lies and cover-ups. We have already seen so much documentation concerning so many leading automakers, which unequivocally show that they put profits before people.

Those who have been injured as a result of defective autos face an uphill task because they are up against giant corporations and industry leaders. These corporations are willing to spend millions on high-powered legal defense teams rather than fairly compensate injured victims or families of those who have been killed as a result of their defective products.

If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a defective auto, please contact us to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights. Auto defect cases are among the most difficult and challenging to handle. This is why very few law firms nationwide are equipped with the knowledge and resources to handle these cases. Automakers use every tactic and maneuver at their disposal to thwart the efforts of victims seeking justice and the attorneys who try to assist these plaintiffs. Our attorneys are here to help you every step of the way and help you obtain the justice and compensation you rightfully deserve. Please contact us at (949) 203-3814 for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.


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Types of Auto Defects

  • Automakers often negligently sell cars that have defects that can lead to injuries or death:
  • Sudden Acceleration: A car can accelerate to full speed without pressing the gas pedal and may not be able to be stopped by the brakes
  • Rollovers: Taller cars like 15-passenger vans are much more likely to rollover under dangerous driving conditions and cause injuries.
  • Roof Crush: Rollover accidents are especially dangerous when the vehicle roof is not enforced, leading to major injuries or death.
  • Airbag Failure: Consumers expect their airbag to protect them in a crash, and passengers can be injured terribly if the airbag does not go off in the event of a crash.
  • Seatbelt Failure: Defective seatbelts can click into position but then release when jolted suddenly, offering no protection in a car crash.
  • Seat Back Failure: Many car seats are made cheaply and can break in the event of a rear-end accident, leading to head injuries for the driver or a passenger behind them.
  • If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of an auto defect, know your rights and contact an attorney today. We may be able to get you the compensation you deserve.
  • Over $300M in verdicts and settlements.
  • Firm commitment to public safety and holding corporate giants accountable.
  • A team of auto defect attorneys who are dedicated and compassionate.
  • Serving California since 1978.

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Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Any results set forth here were dependent on the facts of that case and the results will differ from case to case. Bisnar Chase serves all of California. In addition, we represent clients in various other states through our affiliations with local law firms. Through the local firm we will be admitted to practice law in their state, pro hac vice.

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