It's nearly impossible to read the news these days and not see something about an automaker lying to the public and putting consumers' wellbeing at risk.
Right now, it's Volkswagen, who is accused of manipulating their vehicles' software to defy emissions laws. Volkswagen has refused to cooperate with investigators, causing the U.S. Justice Department to go so far as to say that the automaker had given "misleading information" and had "impeded and obstructed" the investigation into its malfeasance.
Last year, investigators discovered that General Motors had been concealing an ignition switch defect that killed at least 124 people and injured many more.
Before then, it was Takata airbags - found in many manufacturers' vehicles - that exploded on deployment and sent metal shards flying through the air and into passengers' bodies.
Government action is rarely enough
These are just a few of the many instances in which automakers' secrets have caused drivers serious harm. It is clear that more needs to be done to protect the public.
Government regulators, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, have the authority to conduct investigations and fine manufacturers who refuse to cooperate. State attorneys general also have the authority to investigate and impose sanctions.
Still, the sad truth is that automakers are businesses first, and most look at the world in terms of dollars and cents. If it costs less to pay the penalties than to proactively fix the problems, manufacturers' behaviors may never change.
Consumers hold the power
People who have been harmed as a result of a dangerous or defective vehicle have a right to take action against manufacturers and other responsible parties. A product liability lawsuit is one of the best methods for doing so.
These lawsuits allow victims to seek compensation for the wrongs that have been inflicted on them. Possible damages include things like medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.
Additionally, taking action helps hold automakers accountable, and provides some disincentive against further bad behavior. Often, the consumers - especially in large numbers - have greater power than the government.
If you or a loved one was injured or otherwise harmed by a defective vehicle, stand up for your rights. You deserve better than to suffer alone. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your options under the law.