Fiat Chrysler America (FCA), like many car makers and other manufacturing companies, have a legal and a moral duty to recall all defective products as soon as they find out about the defect. This is especially true when it comes to potentially lethal products like passenger vehicles. Now, a month and a half after actor Anton Yelchin was suddenly killed by his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee on June 19, his grieving parents have sued FCA, citing their inadequate recall process as a major factor.
The 27-year-old actor, who is probably best known for playing Chekov in the recently refigured “Star Trek” franchise, was killed when his Grand Cherokee rolled backward and crushed him against the brick post of a security gate. That happened because he mistakenly believed he had put his vehicle in park. At fault is a gear-shift design that makes it difficult for drivers to be able to know which gear the vehicle is in.
FCA issued a voluntary recall of 1.1 million of these vehicles earlier this year after they noticed a number of reports of instances in which drivers were unwittingly shifting their cars to neutral but believing it was in park. That is because the electronic shifter used in the vehicles doesn’t indicate by traditional tactile means that it is locked into the park gear and that it is safe to exit the vehicle. Chekov received a recall notice for the problem, but unfortunately, it was mailed to him approximately a week after he became a victim of the defect.
According to the Yelchin family and their attorney during the emotional press conference announcing the lawsuit, the filing is an attempt to let FCA and other car makers know that they can’t wait until something really bad happens before they do the right thing. It was also explained that FCA had not offered condolences or apologies and that, in fact, the company was actually preparing to actively fight the family to protect themselves.
In response to the press conference, Fiat Chrysler released a statement, which reads in part, “FCA US LLC extends its sympathies to the Yelchin family for their tragic loss. FCA US urges customers to follow the instructions in their owners (sic) manuals and the information cards sent with their recall notices. These instructions include advising customers to set the parking brakes in their vehicles before exiting.”
Something has to be done to make the vehicle recall process more efficient, effective and timely. Car makers should be held responsible for producing products that put their owners and their families at risk and more has to be done to protect the public. This should also serve as a lesson to everyone; if you or a loved one are injured or killed in an accident caused by a defective vehicle, the vehicle manufacturer won’t just voluntarily do the right thing; you have to make them do it. You can’t do that on your own; you should contact the Defective Vehicle Injury and Wrongful Death Lawyer atThe Hill Law Firm to help you. We have extensive experience and knowledge when it comes to dealing with the largest companies in Texas and the country. Let us investigate and help you protect your rights under the law.