“Tell Them You Mean Business”

Recalled Cars Remain On the Road, Putting Drivers at Risk


Massachusetts Car Accident LawyersWhile automakers are required to put their vehicles through a rigorous testing process before they’re road-ready, many dangerous defects still slip through – and fixing those defects once the car has been sold is difficult at best.

That means millions of potentially dangerous vehicles are still on the road, and unfortunately, accidents involving those vehicles are all too common. Some defects, such as issues with brakes and steering, make collisions more likely. Others, such as faulty airbags, lead to more serious injuries and fatalities when collisions happen.

A recent accident in Houston, which killed the driver of a 2002 Honda Civic, highlighted the dangers associated with recalled cars. The 17-year-old motorist’s death was the 11th fatality linked to defective Takata airbags.

Honda has issued six recall notices for those defective airbags since 2011, and it isn’t the only manufacturer involved. Because manufacturers try to reduce costs by sharing underlying components between different vehicles, a single defective product can affect millions of cars. The Takata recall in particular affects over 24 million vehicles sold by 14 different automakers.

Because many of those vehicles – such as the 2002 Civic involved in the Houston accident – were sold over a decade ago, tracking down the owners to send recall notices can be very difficult. Older cars may have been sold and re-sold several times, and owners may have changed addresses.

Even when the recall forms do reach owners, getting the vehicles repaired can be a challenge. The highest repair rates seen for motor vehicle recalls are about three out of four vehicles – and those are for the deadliest defects involving newer cars. The Takata recall has a repair rate of only 27 percent thanks to the sheer volume of vehicles involved.

Legal implications of an accident involving a recalled vehicle

Liability for accidents in which a recalled car part played a role can be quite complex. In general, injuries caused by defective products – including defective vehicles – fall under the legal field of product liability. In order to recover damages, the injured person must prove that the manufacturer produced a faulty product due to manufacturing or design defects, or failed to adequately warn users of the dangers associated with the product.

However, products with an active recall in place are in different legal territory because there may be multiple responsible parties to look at. By sending out recall letters and notifying owners of the potential danger, manufacturers may be able to limit their own liability in these cases – especially when they offer to pay for necessary repairs. However, this limitation of liability may not apply if the manufacturer does not have enough parts to allow the recall repair to take place in a timely fashion, or if there are delays at the dealership in making repairs because of the sheer quantity of recall repairs needing to be made.

Vehicle owners owe a duty of care to other motorists to keep their cars in good working order. As such, an owner who receives a recall notice and knowingly continues to use the vehicle without repairing the dangerous defect first could be held liable if that vehicle is later involved in an accident. Given that repairs to recalled vehicles cost the private owners nothing, failing to complete those repairs could very well be considered negligence on the owner’s part.

Other parties could also potentially be at fault in an accident involving a recalled vehicle. For instance, if repairs are conducted, but the repair facility makes an error during the repair, that repair facility could be held liable for injuries. Regulations require rental car companies to pull recalled vehicles from their fleets until they have been repaired; as such, a rental company that fails to comply with that law could also be considered negligent.

If a recalled product was involved in your auto accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. However, finding that compensation can be difficult. These types of accidents absolutely call for experienced legal representation to investigate the way the recall was conducted and navigate the many potential liabilities involved.

Armed Forces Lost Earning Capacity – We Can Help After Your Accident

Our nation owes its freedom to the sacrifices made by members of the Armed Services. That’s why it can be so frustrating when U.S. Military personnel on active duty or in the reserves sustain a serious injury in a car accident or another seemingly-random incident. Suddenly, you or a loved one might miss out on promotions or other employment opportunities due to your accident.

If you were injured in an accident and you believe your accident has affected your ability to move up in the ranks, you could have a legitimate “lost earning capacity” case. And if you don’t take legal action right away, you could forfeit your right to be fairly compensated.

In Massachusetts, the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone has years of experience serving people who have been injured. We know how the legal system works – and we’re proud to put our knowledge to work on behalf of military personnel. Our law firm has recovered more than $500 million in verdicts, settlements, benefits and awards. Numbers don’t lie. We know how to get the job done right!

What is lost earning capacity?

The term “lost earning capacity” refers to the potential future income that a person might have received if he or she was never injured in an accident. In the military, injuries can make a dramatic difference during a soldier’s or officer’s career because they may inhibit the service member’s ability to move up the ranks.

The difference in pay can often be dramatic in the United States military. Depending on whether you’re an Enlisted Personnel (E Grade), Warrant Officer (W Grade) or Officer (O Grade), your pay could be significantly higher depending on your rank.

How much money is at stake?

Two common military grades include E4 and E5. In the U.S. Army and the Marines, E4 refers to a Corporal while E5 applies to a Sergeant. In the Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, a Petty Officer 3rd Class has an E4 grade while a Petty Officer 2nd Class has an E5 grade. In the United States Air Force, E4 applies to a Senior Airman while Staff Sergeants receive an E5 pay grade. In Massachusetts, many military personnel have these ranks, especially members of the 66th Air Base Group stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base and the 439th Airlift Wing at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee.

The difference between E4 and E5 might seem small - $185.40 a month if you have less than 2 years’ experience, according to the current Enlisted Pay Grades. But if your injury prevents you from permanently moving up a rank from Corporal to Sergeant, you could lose out on $2,224.80 a year the first year. And that number will go up each year since most military personnel receive more money the longer they serve in the armed forces. As a result, according to the current military pay scale, the difference between a Corporal and Sergeant with 12 or more years’ experience is $682.80 a month or $8,193.60 a year.

And such numbers don’t take into account the thousands of additional dollars that a retired Corporal or Sergeant receives for the rest of his or her life. That’s why it’s critical that you work with a lawyer to make sure you don’t miss out on compensation you rightfully deserve.

How can a lawyer help me with my case?

Building a legal case involving lost earning capacity can be extremely complicated. No one knows for sure what will happen during their lifetime. But there are many reasonable expectations, especially for members of the armed services.

As your attorney, we can take legal action against the person who caused your accident. The military does not need to be involved in your case whatsoever. We simply need to prove that your accident caused an injury which prevented you from taking on additional assignments or duties that would have likely resulted in a promotion.

Some law firms avoid such complicated cases. We thrive on them. That’s because we want to make a difference in people’s lives. That’s especially true for the men and women who serve our country. You put your life on the line for us every single day. Now it’s our turn to fight for your rights. Contact our law firm today. We have 12 offices conveniently located statewide.