The Safety Institute, a Massachusetts-based not-for-profit investigating injury prevention and product safety, has released its quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List, featuring the top 15 potential vehicle defects to look out for in 2015. It’s the third consecutive report since the Institute began rolling out its influential catalog in June 2014.
Topping this quarter’s list is the 2012 Ford Focus (steering); the 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt (electrical); the 2008 Toyota Sienna (power train); the 2011 Chevrolet Cruz (service brake), and the 2007 Toyota Camry (speed control). The Safety Institute’s assessment describes these designations as “areas that need more investigating,” as opposed to defects. The report is largely intended as a frame of reference for “lawyers, researchers and analysts,” who mine data as a way of studying persistent problems of motor vehicle flaws.
Still, according to the Safety Institute, none of these designations have been investigated by the National Highway Safety Administration or fixed by the original manufacturer. By ignoring the data collected by the Safety Institute, carmakers and the regulatory bodies designed to protect drivers and passengers are potentially leaving consumers in a precarious position.
Toyota alone has suffered through very public recalls with model years 2005-2011, resulting in class action lawsuits and settlements related to accelerating motor pedals. The suit claimed that Toyota knowingly failed to correct a dangerous problem that could have led to fatalities. In Ford’s case, the NHTSA has long been involved in a process that involves the stalling and surging of engines in the Ford Escape model. The Ford Focus produced in model years 2012-2014 was recalled recently for stall-like conditions and unexpected losses in power.
The Safety Institute’s analysis is based on death and injury claims of the early warning reports system designed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. The analytics aim to identify “continuing potential failures to effectively fix issues that are already known,” says the report.
“The Vehicle Safety Watch List is an example of leveraging already available data to help prioritize investigative resources,” Sean Kane, The Safety Institute’s founder and president of the board, said in a statement. “This type of tool can help identify and potentially prevent costly safety crises that not only cause harm to consumers, but take extra resources to manage.”
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Institute’s report is the extent to which several commonly owned vehicles go unchecked by federal regulators. Granted, some of this information functions more as a watchdog than an objective presentation of facts. But a takeaway from this list and for potential victims of recall-related injuries is that they have recourse as consumers, especially when a defect is known and goes unaddressed.
Many of the listed defects have resulted in class action lawsuits against car manufacturers like Toyota and Ford. Whether your vehicle’s problems – and perhaps your injuries – are the result of a defect like those described in the report, and whether you may be part of a class, are questions often more easily answered with the guidance of a lawyer. An assessment can help determine if a class action or another lawsuit is the route for you. If you’ve been injured due to a faulty product and you believe there are others in a similar situation, a class action might be appropriate, and you should consider consulting with an attorney.
Your particular accident may not result in significant injuries, but collectively, the value of a class action suit is that it carries weight in the courtroom by consolidating resources. If you’re a victim of a faulty or recalled product, you may qualify for a class action claim. By offering free, one-on-one consultations, we can help you determine if this might be the route for you.