Following an NHTSA probe, Tesla is implementing a recall for 137 Model Y vehicles, triggered by the concern that their steering wheels could detach. The carmaker pinpoints a single fastener as the problem, but this is not the inaugural occasion where such issues have arisen.
Out of the 137 Model Y vehicles impacted by this recall, Tesla estimates that merely 10 percent actually possess this steering wheel looseness. Per the official document submitted to the NHTSA, the problem was detected by a Tesla service technician. The technician raised the alarm upon encountering a loose steering wheel while addressing a distinct issue.
This incident took place on May 4th of the current year, and by May 22nd, Tesla had resolved to lodge this voluntary recall. The company also verified its awareness of at least four warranty claims and a single field report that “have ties or may potentially be linked to this condition.” Concurrently, it asserts no knowledge of any accidents, injuries, or fatalities associated with the issue.
The central issue lies in a fastener, a singular component tasked with affixing the wheel to the steering column. Tesla suggests that in scarce scenarios, it’s feasible that the fastener isn’t tightened to the appropriate degree, and under these circumstances, it can loosen and ultimately disconnect. If such an event occurs, the wheel detaches along with it.
The issue of Tesla’s defective steering wheels has been reported on in three past new stories. In May 2020, a British individual experienced his Model 3 wheel detachment just a month post-delivery. Subsequently, in January, we reported on an individual who underwent a similar predicament when the wheel in his Model Y disconnected less than a week after delivery. At first, Tesla even forwarded him a repair invoice for the wheel. In March, the NHTSA announced an investigation into two Model Y steering wheels that had detached, and now, this recall ensues. We are still awaiting information on whether that investigation has concluded or if this foreshadows more issues in the future.
Filing a Product Liability Lawsuit to Recover Compensation
In situations like the one with Tesla Model Y, where a product defect potentially puts consumer safety at risk, the company may face product liability lawsuits. Product liability refers to a manufacturer or vendor being held liable for placing a defective product into the hands of consumers. When defects in motor vehicles lead to injuries, car manufacturers can be held responsible.
Product liability laws are designed to protect consumers from dangerous products, while holding manufacturers, distributors, and vendors accountable for putting such products into the market. Generally, to hold a manufacturer liable for damages, consumers must prove that the product was defective, and that the defect specifically caused their injuries.
In this particular case, Tesla’s steering wheel detachment issue could lead to potential lawsuits if accidents, injuries, or property damage occur as a result. Product defects are generally classified into three categories: design defects, manufacturing defects, and warning defects.
- Design Defects: This occurs when the product design is inherently dangerous or useless, regardless of how carefully manufactured. If it is found that all Model Ys share the same steering wheel detachment problem due to a design flaw, this could potentially fall under a design defect claim.
- Manufacturing Defects: This occurs when the product design is sound, but something goes wrong in the manufacturing process, causing the product to become dangerous. If it’s found that only a specific batch of Model Ys has the steering wheel issue due to a production error, this would potentially be a manufacturing defect claim.
- Warning Defects (also known as marketing defects): This occurs when a product is not labeled with adequate warnings or instructions about its use. If it’s found that Tesla didn’t provide proper instruction or warnings about possible steering wheel detachment, this could potentially be a warning defect claim.
In product liability lawsuits, the plaintiffs seek to recover damages from injuries, lost wages, medical bills, property damage, and in severe cases, for pain and suffering. In certain instances, if the defendant’s conduct is found to be particularly egregious or reckless, punitive damages may also be awarded.
In response to such lawsuits, the defense team may argue the defect was not present when the car left their possession, the consumer misused the product, the consumer was fully aware of the risk but disregarded it, or the consumer’s actions (or lack of action) were the actual cause of their injury.
It’s worth noting that Tesla has initiated a voluntary recall, which may help mitigate potential lawsuits by demonstrating their commitment to consumer safety and taking responsible action to correct the defect. However, should accidents occur due to the steering wheel detachment, affected individuals may still choose to pursue product liability lawsuits.
Product liability lawsuits are complex and can be highly contentious. Consumers who believe they’ve been harmed by a product should consult with our attorneys to discuss their legal options.
CONTACT PARKER WAICHMAN LLP TODAY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
Be sure to get the legal help you need for your product injury case. Contact Parker Waichman, LLP today by calling their toll-free number 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529). Their experienced product liability attorneys are standing by to provide a free case evaluation and help you take the first steps toward obtaining the justice and compensation you deserve.
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