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Fiat Chrysler cited with record financial penalty for recalls

Negligent or reckless drivers can pose a risk to Connecticut motorists and pedestrians. However, defective vehicles can cause fatal car accidents when parts cause fires or if there is a loss of control.

At a July 2 hearing, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration discussed problems with Fiat Chrysler's implementation of 23 safety recalls for more than 11 million defective vehicles. Following this hearing and the manufacturer's admissions of Motor Vehicle Safety Act provisions, Fiat Chrysler agreed to a $105 million civil penalty. This is the largest penalty ever levied by the NHTSA.

Fiat Chrysler admitted that it committed violations of the Safety Act in the areas of effective and timely recall remedies, providing notification to vehicle owners and dealers and furnishing notification to the NHTSA. The NHTSA said that these violations placed millions of customers and the driving public at risk.

In the NHTSA's consent order, Fiat Chrysler agreed to remove defective vehicles off the road or have them repaired. The manufacturer will provide owners of more than 500,000 vehicles the opportunity to sell their vehicles back to Fiat Chrysler. These vehicles were identified as having defective suspension parts that could cause loss of control.

Owners of over one million Jeeps that are susceptible to deadly fires can also trade in their vehicles in to the manufacturer and receive more market value or obtain a financial incentive for repairs. Notification of these various options has to be provided to vehicle owners.

Further, Fiat Chrysler consented to unpatrolled government oversight for three years. This includes the hiring of a NHTSA-approved independent monitor to follow and report on the company's performance on recalls.

The company will pay a $70 million cash penalty -- equal to the $70 million penalty that Honda paid earlier this year. Fiat Chrysler also has to spend at least $20 million on complying with the Consent Order's performance requirements. If the independent monitor finds additional violations of the Safety Act or this consent order, Fiat Chrysler will pay an additional $15 million.

Auto accident victims and their families should seek legal assistance when a car accident is caused by defective equipment or a negligent, distracted or drunk driver. Legal representation can help determine liability and assure the right to compensation for losses that are suffered.

Source: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, "Automaker admits failures and agrees to federal oversight, buy backs and record penalty," accessed July 27, 2015

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