NHTSA Fines Vehicle Manufacturers $44M for Failure to Recall, Report Danger

Two large, heavy-duty truck manufacturers are being slapped with a $44 million fine from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failure to timely recall defective vehicles that posed injury risk to the public.

Spartan Motors, Inc., based in Michigan, and Forest River Inc., based in Indiana, conceded they did not initiate timely recalls on defective vehicles, as required by federal law. They also did not report important information, such as Early Warning Report data and technical service bulletins.

Most of that penalty will be deferred if the firms agree to bring their respective companies into compliance with federal regulations. For example, Forest River was given a $35 million civil penalty, but $30 million can be deferred. Meanwhile, Spartan has been given a $9 million penalty, but it will only have to pay $1 million if it complies with the consent order. It will, however, have to spend $3 million bringing the company into compliance.

Forest River first grabbed the attention of federal safety officials following a church bus crash six years ago. The crash, which occurred in Louisiana, resulted in two deaths and 21 injuries.

Upon further investigation, federal safety officials found Forest River, which manufactured the involved bus, made the vehicle unsafe when it tried to pack additional seating and cargo room into the cabin. It made the vehicle longer by cutting the chassis in half and extending it. Additionally, the automakers added frame rails to the rear of the vehicle to extend it. These changes, the NHTSA said, made the vehicle unsafe.

Our Montgomery auto accident lawyers note settlement of separate class action lawsuits in 2014 prompted the NHTSA to launch its own investigation.

Spartan, meanwhile, dragged its feet in reporting potential dangers and initiating safety recalls of certain emergency response vehicles and other items it was responsible for making.

The fines are part of a larger initiative by the NHTSA to improve reporting requirements for vehicle safety defects or other problems. Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai and Graco are among those given similar fines within the last year, after it was revealed the companies did not turn over death and injury reports to federal officials or failed to initiate timely recalls.

Injuries that result from defective vehicles, vehicle parts or vehicle products are filed under a cause of product liability.

Recalls of potentially dangerous products don’t absolve manufacturers of liability for damages caused by those defects. However, injuries may be prevented and lives spared when the public is notified of such dangers sooner. That’s why companies face stiff civil penalties for failing to report these flaws as soon as possible.

Recalls become necessary when:

  • A motor vehicle or piece of equipment doesn’t meet federal safety standards
  • There is a safety-related defect in the equipment or vehicle

If you have suffered injury as a result of a vehicle defect, call us today to learn how we can help.

Call Allred & Allred P.C. at 334.396.9200 to speak with a Montgomery personal injury lawyer.

Additional Resources:
U.S. DOT Fines Spartan Motors Inc. and Forest River Inc. for Failure to Announce Recalls and Report Safety Defects to NHTSA, July 9, 2015, Press Release National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
More Blog Entries:
Report: Alabama 13th Highest Nationally for Injury-Related Death, July 7, 2015, Montgomery Injury Lawyer Blog

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