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2014 Breaks Records for Automobile Recalls

2014 Breaks Records for Auto Recalls: Drivers of Older Vehicles Should Beware

As the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve 2014, the worst year for auto recalls in U.S. history came to a close. The New York Times, among other news sources, called 2014 " a record year for auto recalls" with over 62 million vehicles recalled. This is equivalent to one in five vehicles and an average of two recall campaigns per day. According to The International Business Times, this is almost three times the number of vehicles recalled in 2013, and double the previous record of 30.8 million vehicles recalled in 2004.

Last year's high profile recalls ranged from General Motor's faulty ignition switch (which, among other issues, cuts power to steering, brakes, and airbags) to Japanese auto supplier Takata's explosive airbag inflators (which spew shrapnel when deployed - see our previous blog). Of all automakers, G.M. issued the most extensive recalls with approximately 80 recalls covering nearly 27 million of their vehicles.

Unfortunately, about 10 million of recalled vehicles are 10 years or older, which means that Ohioans with older vehicles may be out of luck. Ohio has a very strict 10 year statute of repose for product liability claims ( Ohio Rev. Code 2305.10), which includes dangerous and defective automobiles . You must sue the auto manufacturer or supplier within 10 years of the date the vehicle was sold to the first purchaser/lessee – regardless of when you discovered the danger or defect. Once those 10 years have passed, you are forever prevented from filing products liability claims against the automaker. For example, if you purchase a brand-new car in 2015, drive it without discovering a problem until 2026 – 11 years later – it's still too late. Ohio's statute of repose unfairly leaves millions of drivers with no legal recourse whatsoever, especially when product manufacturers intentionally hide dangerous defects from the public such as what General Motors did with the faulty ignition switch.

Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death and injury in the United States. Anything that automakers can do to increase safety for the public – including closely adhering to all laws and regulations, issuing effective recall campaigns, providing timely notice to drivers, making prompt repairs, or entirely removing unsafe models from the roads – is well worth the effort when human lives are at stake.

For more information on motor vehicle safety defects and recall campaigns, you can visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website.