Jeep that Killed Actor Anton Yelchin was Under Recall
What may appear to be a freak accident may actually be the result of a widespread safety problem that has caused hundreds of crashes across the United States in recent months.
The vehicle that killed actor Anton Yelchin, 27, was part of a safety recall issued two months ago. Yelchin was crushed to death when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled backward down his driveway and pinned him against a fence.
Yelchin’s Jeep was included in a recall that was issued after hundreds of similar – but nonfatal – accidents were reported. Due to a gear shift problem, drivers can mistakenly believe their car is in park, when it is actually in drive or neutral. The confusion stems from a monostable gear shift lever, which rests in a default position, unlike the traditional gear shift, which moves to a different position for each gear. As a result of this counter-intuitive design, there have been numerous instances where vehicles roll away after the driver has gotten out, erroneously believing the car to be in park.
There have been 41 injuries, 212 crashes and 308 reports of property damage linked to the phenomenon.
Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.1 million vehicles for this problem, including 2012-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees, Dodge Chargers, and Chrysler 300s. Unfortunately, Fiat Chrysler is currently unable to offer drivers much more than a “be extra careful” warning pertaining to the non-user-friendly gear shift. A permanent remedy to the problem is under development and is expected to be ready by the end of this year.
Once again, safety advocates have raised two important issues. 1. Automakers ought to make greater effort to inform consumers about potential hazards in their vehicles, and 2. Consumers need to take these recalls seriously.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires companies to inform customers by mail. Due to state privacy laws, dealers are prevented from reaching out to consumers by phone. And, when car makers mail notices, they use car registration rolls to get addresses. So if a driver has moved and not properly re-registered a vehicle, the recall notice may go undelivered.
But the problem doesn’t end there. Even when consumers receive recall notices in the mail, the warnings can go unnoticed. Rebecca Lindland with Kelley Blue Book says, “The current look and feel of a recall notice is about as friendly as an IRS letter. They tend to be verbiage-heavy, quite technical and not very user-friendly.”
Autotrader senior analyst Michelle Krebs says that consumers don’t think the recall is urgent or necessary because they have not experienced a problem. They make the mistake of waiting for something to go wrong before having the car fixed. But, the purpose of a recall notice is to fix the potential hazard before someone gets hurt, not after. In reality, Krebs says, “ALL recalls, by their very nature, are safety-related and should be addressed by taking them to a dealership for free repairs.”
The best way to protect yourself is to do a quick, easy check to see if your vehicle has an active recall by entering the VIN number (found on your registration or insurance card) at https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/.
If you or a loved one have been hurt in a car accident involving a car that has been recalled (including Takata airbag recalls) call Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation. We have experience helping individuals and families who have been affected by the GM ignition switch recall, the Takata airbag recall, and many others. We will review the details of your case, answer any questions you may have, and help you determine what to do next.
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Posted in Product Liability & Recalls.
Tagged Auto Recalls