Italian luxury carmaker Ferrari recently was fined $3.5 million for failing to submit reports of three fatal incidents involving its vehicles. Automobile manufacturers have one primary job – to sell you their cars, trucks, SUVs and other vehicles. But they also have a legal and ethical responsibility to assure that their products and parts are safe. Unfortunately, that responsibility sometimes is taken lightly – with potentially deadly results. Among the requirements of automobile manufacturers is the submission of early warning reports, (EWRs) identifying potential or actual safety issues.
Federal law requires large manufacturers and their affiliates to submit comprehensive EWRs quarterly, allowing for timely notice to the US Department of Transportation and its National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Smaller-volume automakers aren’t required to submit quarterly EWRs, but are mandated to report fatal incidents involving their vehicles. That’s where Maranello, Italy-based Ferrari recently made an inexcusable mistake. Though considered a small-volume manufacturer, it’s owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and markets its wares in the United States, which makes it beholden to the federal laws requiring quarterly EWRs and fatality reports.
Company officials recently admitted violating the law by failing to submit EWRs to the NHTSA over a three year period, and failing to report three fatal incidents. Now, Ferrari has been hit with a $3.5 million fine and new mandates to improve its EWR reporting processes, train personnel on the EWR requirements, and retroactively submit all required reports. “The information included in early warning reports is an essential tool in tracking down dangerous defects in vehicles,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman, adding that EWRs “are like NHTSA’s radar, helping us to find unsafe vehicles and make sure they are fixed. Companies that violate the law and fail to comply will be subject to comparable swift NHTSA enforcement action.”
Ferrari isn’t the only auto manufacturer to shirk responsibility for reporting potentially dangerous issues. Two US Senators last week called upon the Department of Justice to conduct a criminal investigation into evidence that Japanese air bag manufacturer Takata destroyed evidence of a default that thus far has contributed to the deaths of at least three American drivers and prompted a 7.8 million-unit recall. Plus, newly revealed emails suggest that carmaker General Motors ordered more than a half-million replacement ignition switches nearly two months before it notified safety regulators of a defect in the switches linked to 32 known deaths – and issue that company officials admit they’ve known about for a decade.
If you or your loved ones are injured or lost in an incident involving a known or suspected defect in the manufacture of a vehicle, whether it belongs to you or another involved party, get medical treatment immediately. Then, contact a product liability or auto accident attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.