The death of 50-year-old Delia Robles of Riverside has brought attention to a group of drivers who are particularly vulnerable to dangerous, recalled vehicles – second, third or even fourth owners who bought their vehicles in transactions that were far removed from the protections offered to new car buyers. According to a report in The New York Times, Robles was killed in a car accident when she was driving her 2001 Honda Civic. The recalled Takata airbag in the car deployed and shot out metal shards that caused Robles’s fatal injuries.
The Poorest Are Most at Risk
Her 2001 Honda Civic had been sold three times at auto auctions before her son bought it from an acquaintance. There is no explicit federal requirement that sellers of used cars fix problems related to safety recalls. In fact, they don’t even have to disclose the recalls, something the law requires of new-car dealers. The lack of such a law affects a large section of the population. In 2015 alone, more than 38 million used cars were sold around the country.
The higher-risk cars are often sold to the most vulnerable consumers through auctions – whether they are organized by governmental agencies or car dealers. Auctions are where dealers who are uncomfortable selling damaged or defective vehicles directly to their customers will get rid of those vehicles to other dealers who have no problems selling them. The consumers in such cases are poorer, less educated, less car-savvy, have poor credit and very likely, are English-challenged as well.
In the case of Robles’s Honda Civic, the automaker said it had sent out 20 recall notices since the model was first recalled in 2008, warning that its driver-side airbag could explode and cause serious injuries. But that Honda was never repaired, but sold to Robles’s son for $2,100, about $600 more than the Kelley Blue Book value for that car.
The Need for Better Regulation
Anyone selling a used car should not be able to sell the vehicle without performing the necessary repairs on that vehicle – which is of course done by the automaker at absolutely no charge to consumers. Even if some states have a patchwork of consumer protection regulations, it is simply not sufficient to protect all consumers against dangerous and defective vehicles.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a dangerous or defective vehicle, it is important to understand that you have legal rights and options. Contact an experienced auto defect law firm that has the resources to stand up and fight for your rights against large automakers and negligent auto dealers, and hold them accountable.