Car accidents can happen any time in California, and defects in cars have increased the chances of accidents happening. Market Watch indicated 51 million cars were recalled in 2015 alone, down from more than 64 million recalls in 2014. Some of these cars had defects like ignition switches that cause them to stop randomly in the middle of the road. Others had defects like exploding Takata airbags. All of these defects have the potential to cause serious injuries.
These recalled cars do not just disappear when news of the problems arise. Consumers who bought the cars are sent notices from manufacturers and are expected to take the car in to fix or replace the recalled part free of charge.
The problem is, a lot of consumers don't bring their cars in. A lot of defects don't get fixed. Instead, the cars stay on the road with problems. A great many of these cars also end up sold as used cars, without the necessary repairs being made.
There's no federal law mandating used cars have defects repaired before being sold. There is a federal law requiring dealers of new cars make repairs if there are recalls out for cars being sold. Most people don't realize that used car dealers can sell cars without making repairs or without issuing an alert about the recalls.
Unfortunately, without a federal law, these cars with un-repaired defects can end up being sold across the country. It is especially common for cars with unfixed defects to be sold at car auctions since dealers may send cars to auction they wouldn't be comfortable selling direct to consumers. Many are sold multiple times at auction.
The new buyers of these vehicles typically have no idea about the serious flaws in the cars they have purchased. One woman whose death was reported on by the New York Times was killed in a fender bender because her car's airbag exploded. Her son had bought her the car, which had a known airbag defect. More than 20 notices had been sent out about the problem with the airbag since 2008. The son hadn't seen any of them and wasn't told about the problem from the friend he bought the car from, who had himself purchased it from an auction where it had been sold twice. The woman died in the accident due to the airbag, and neither she nor her son even knew that the car's airbag was unsafe.
Clearly, something needs to be done to make used car buyers safer, especially as 38 million people bought used cars last year. Victims who get hurt in accidents resulting from unrepaired defects, or loved ones of those killed in cars with unrepaired defects, also need to know what their rights are after crashes happen.