If you have a complaint about a vehicle defect, you may already have tried filing a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If you’re having trouble getting them to address your concerns, however, it might be time for you to consider filing a defect petition.
A defect petition is a little more in-depth than a conventional complaint, and it doesn’t guarantee an overnight response. But if your complaint is important to you, filing a defect petition will ensure that your complaint gets the consideration it deserves.
What is a Defect Petition?
A defect petition is a complaint you can file with the NHTSA about a defect you may have encountered with your vehicle. This petition could eventually lead to a product recall, if it is found that your vehicle’s defect is a problem with the whole product line rather than your vehicle alone.
When a defect petition is filed, the NHTSA has to do a review of your complaint and issue a written decision on whether or not to begin an in-depth investigation. While this doesn’t guarantee that there will be an in-depth investigation or that your complaint will lead to a recall, it does require the administration to justify their decision to investigate or not.
Defect petitions are fairly rare. As of December 6, 2018, for example, only four defect petitions had been filed with the NHTSA nationwide. In addition, defect petitions are fairly low-priority for the NHTSA. According to Matthew Oliver of the North Carolina Consumers Council, “Defect petitions seem to have low priority for the agency, even when submitted with complaint data and/or having the same symptoms as recalls that have already been issued for other vehicles of the same kind.”
The agency disputes this, saying that they take seriously their responsibilities to keep drivers on American highways safe. Regardless, the fact is that when you file a defect petition, your complaint is likely to take some time to resolve.
Filing a Defect Petition
The process of filing a defect petition is more in-depth than filing a standard complaint on the NHTSA website. It is rare for the agency to start a full-scale investigation on the basis of a single conventional complaint. Filing a defect petition can require more information and time investment than a conventional complaint, but it can also be a more effective way of getting the NHTSA to address your concerns.
When a Serious Defect Causes You Harm, Contact Us
Though complaints are powerful tools for consumers, in more serious cases where injuries are caused by faulty parts, product liability claims are the preferred option. In a vehicle-related product liability claim, an injured person seeks payment, typically from the manufacturer, for the injury-related costs they face.
The Louthian Law Firm has represented injured South Carolinians in car accident lawsuits since 1959. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident, it’s important to make sure that you understand your legal rights. South Carolina law can be complex, and there is a deadline for filing a claim. The initial consultation is always free, so reach out to us today by calling us or by filling out our online contact form.