Recently, Toyota recalled 615,000 Sienna minivans in the United States. The minivans are from the 2004, 2005, and 2007 through 2009 model years. The vans contain a mechanism inside the shift level that could break, which would allow the vans to be shifted out of park without the brake pedal being pressed. According to Toyota, 21 accidents and two minor injuries have occurred because of the problem. Owners will be notified by mail when to bring their vehicles in to a dealer for repairs.

Automakers have a legal duty to recall vehicles once they become aware of a serious problem with the vehicle, such as occurred in this case. Fortunately, Toyota recalled the vans before any serious accidents occurred. However, that’s not always the case. Other automobile manufacturers have been slow in recent years to recall vehicles, even after major defects are discovered.

In many cases, recalls can be very, very expensive for automakers. This can be especially true if the recall affects a great deal of cars, or if the defect is tough to repair. Unfortunately, in many cases it can be much cheaper for the company to quietly settle any lawsuits that occur as a result of an automobile defect than it is for the company to recall tens or hundreds of thousands of vehicles and then to pay for them to be repaired.

If you notice that something in your car seems defective, you should check to see if a vehicle recall has been issued for your vehicle. You may have received a notice in the mail, but you may not have even though the vehicle was recalled. By law, vehicles should be recalled when a motor vehicle or an item of motor vehicle equipment, including tires, does not comply with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, or there is a safety-related defect in the vehicle or equipment.

If you were injured in an accident because of a safety defect with the automobile, the automaker may be liable. Generally, in order to make a personal injury claim against a car manufacturer because of defective vehicle, you must show three things: (1) the vehicle had a dangerous defect that injured you, which occurred during design, manufacturing, handling, shipment, or any other time during the period before you obtained the vehicle; (2) the defect caused the injury while the vehicle was being used in the way in which it was intended to be used; and (3) the vehicle had not been substantially changed from the condition in which it was originally sold. However, if it can be shown that you knew about the defect but you continued to use the car anyway, the manufacturer may have a good defense to your claim.

If you have been injured in an automobile accident, and you believe the accident occurred due to a problem with a vehicle’s design, or a vehicle defect, you may be entitled to compensation. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that car manufacturers have a duty to the public to recall defective automobiles, regardless of the costs involved, and if they fail to do so they should be held accountable.

If you have been injured due to a defective vehicle, call Liberty Law at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. Micha Star Liberty helps clients throughout the Oakland area, including San Francisco, Hayward, Tracy, Fairfield, and Berkeley. Call her today.

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