Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was recently fined $70 million for not reporting deaths and injuries resulting from vehicular defects since 2003. Earlier in 2015, Chrysler was fined for other problems relating to vehicle safety issues. When all is said and done, the automaker could owe the federal government a total of $105 million.
The underreporting of the number of deaths and injuries came from a poorly designed reporting system, rather than intentional efforts to hide information. The U.S. Department of Transportation has most likely fined the company for two separate violations, since the maximum penalty for one violation is currently at $35 million.
In September, Fiat Chrysler admitted that it not only failed to report deaths and injuries, but also failed to report on warranty issues, complaints by consumers, and field reports on safety issues. Many regulators believe that Chrysler’s failure to meet these safety requirements should result in higher penalties.
The death and injury disclosure system was put in place in 2000 so that safety officials could identify manufacturing malfunction trends early. This system was enacted after the Ford Explorer Firestone Tire controversy, which caused countless highway rollovers.
NHTSA Stepping Up Fines
The Fiat Chrysler fine is one in a string of sharp penalties that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been issuing to auto manufacturers since January 2015. In October, the largest supplier of airbags, Takata, faced record fines for their faulty airbags, which have been linked to several deaths. In January 2015, Honda faced penalties for not reporting deaths and injuries since 2003.
Former Transportation Secretary of NHTSA, Rodney Slater, will monitor Fiat Chrysler. The company has agreed to a three-year consent settlement, and Slater will oversee that the automaker is in compliance with the early warning reporting system.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a defective product, including car accidents where auto defects were a contributing factor, the product liability attorneys at Simien & Simien can help you recover the maximum compensation amount you deserve. Contact a personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation.