Federal auto safety regulators have revealed that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had significantly underreported the number of death and injury claims related to potential auto defects in its vehicles.
According to a report in The New York Times, Fiat Chrysler’s admission of the underreporting, discovered in an internal review, tied to the company’s $105-million settlements over its mishandling of vehicle safety recalls, could result in more fines.
Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have vowed to take action.
The agency has not yet said how many death and injury claims were involved or over which time period they occurred. In 2014 alone, automakers recalled about 60 million vehicles for safety issues including millions of General Motors vehicles that had faulty ignitions linked to at least 124 fatalities.
This disclosure by Fiat Chrysler is the second time this year that a major automaker has admitted to failing to report claims as mandated by the Early Warning Reporting system.
Fiat Chrysler is not the only offender in this regard. In January, Honda paid out $70 million in fines for not informing the government about 1,700 deaths and injuries over an 11-year period.
In July Fiat Chrysler agreed to pay fines totaling $105 million for its failure to report. Federal law requires auto makers to compile claims involving safety issues.
The Early Warning Reporting system exists to make NHTSA’s job easier in terms of identifying potential defects. It was put in place after the Ford Firestone tires debacle in 2000 after a wave of highway rollovers involving Ford Explorers.
Holding Automakers Accountable
As auto defect lawyers who represent the rights of those injured by defective autos, we certainly hope officials hold Fiat Chrysler accountable for their failure to report these fatalities and serious injuries linked to their defective vehicles. By not adhering to the law, Fiat Chrysler put the lives of millions of consumers in danger.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of an auto defect, please remember that you have legal rights. Injured victims can seek compensation by filing a product liability claim. And families of deceased victims can seek compensation by filing a wrongful death claim.
When government regulations fail – and they often do – the civil justice system is the only recourse for the common man.