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Chrysler bows to pressure to recall vehicles

In a prior post, we highlighted the request from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to Chrysler LLC to recall millions of Jeep Grand Cherokees and Jeep Liberty vehicles. The reasoning behind the recall was that the positioning of the gas tank in the vehicles created a hazard for potential fatal accidents.

Essentially, drivers and passengers were especially vulnerable to rear-end accidents. Such a crash could potentially rupture the gas tank and cause a fire (and a fatal accident). However, Chrysler resisted the recommendation, explaining that it had made several design changes and that the potential for fire-based accidents was so remote, that it did not justify a recall.

Even though it insists that no recall is necessary, Chrysler recently reversed course and agreed to initate one. It still maintains that car fires caused by rear-end collisions are highly unlikely, but it understands that its customers are worried about driving potentially unsafe vehicles.

As such, Chrysler will allow owners of affected vehicles (1993-2004 Grand Cherokees and 2002-2007 Libertys) to install trailer hitches. The automaker claims that this will add greater protection against potentially fatal accidents.

As a matter of law, automakers have a legal duty to ensure that their vehicles are safe from known dangers. They must take reasonable steps to correct such defects. If an automaker fails to do so, it could be held liable for the injuries that occur as a result of the defect. This is why Chrysler's decision was important not only from a public relations standpoint, but from a legal one as well.

Source: ABC News.com, Chrysler agrees to recall 2.7 million Jeeps, June 18, 2013

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