Sean Bowman, a 28-year-old Whitman, Massachusetts resident and Coast Guard veteran with two daughters, was driving to college, when his Ford Windstar’s rear axle cracked in half, sending the minivan into a building. He died as a result of the accident.
Early investigation indicated that the accident was due to the vehicle’s axle breaking in half due to corrosion. Bowman’s family says that a week after the accident they received a notice from Ford stating that the Windstar’s axle must be checked out for corrosion because it could corrode and break.
Automakers are required to notify owners of recalls by mail “within a reasonable amount of time,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is normally approximately 30 days. Ford appears to be struggling to keep up with the recall. Many repair parts are unavailable and Windstar owners have their cars at dealerships awaiting repair.
On August 27, 2010, Ford announced the recall of 575,000 model year 1998 to 2003 Windstars in the US and Canada. They have currently added another 37,000 minivans to the initial recall, and began informing owners of the additional recalled vehicles on December 6, 2010. The recall included cars that were sold in states where the heavy use of road salt can cause more corrosion, including New England.
Complaints about the Windstar axle cracks date back to at least December 2000. As of September 2010, 950 complaints about the axles were filed with the NHTSA, and the defect has been blamed for eight crashes and three injuries as of September.
The director of the Center for Auto Safety, Clarence Ditlow, stated that “It really is an ineffective recall because the vehicles are still on the road. They didn’t treat it as the safety hazard that it really is. They treated it as a business issue.”
Auto accidents are among the leading causes of deaths and injuries in our country. Victims of motor vehicle negligence may have a variety of legal remedies. At Swartz & Swartz, P.C., we have represented victims of motor vehicle negligence and automobile defects for more than three decades. Our attorneys have the proven experience and expertise, as well as numerous successes in cases involving such product liability and negligence cases. If you or a family member have suffered significant personal injuries as the result of the negligent design or manufacturing of a motor vehicle, and would like to speak with an experienced attorney, please contact us. We are available to answer your questions and discuss important steps in protecting your legal rights; you can call us at (617) 742-1900, or if you are outside the Boston area, call toll-free at 1-800-545-3732. You may also contact us online.