shifterOver the weekend, 27-year-old actor Anton Yelchin, best known for his roles in Star Trek and Alpha Dogs, was killed in a tragic accident. Anton had exited his vehicle and was at his mailbox when his vehicle reportedly rolled, pinning him between the car and the pillar. It was reported that the vehicle involved was a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee. That model was one of the many recalled by Fiat Chrysler in April of this year for rollaway issues.

The vehicle recall occurred after an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) uncovered a confusingly designed electronic shifter. In the recalled models, the shifter worked more like a joystick—meaning that there was nothing holding the shifter in place once a gear has been selected. After a driver selected a gear, the shifter simply returned to the center position. This meant drivers could incorrectly think that their shifter was correctly positioned—even when it was not. The NHTSA found that the defect could even cause drivers to exit their vehicle without realizing they had not shifted into park.

It may be too early to speculate the exact cause of death in the case of Yelchin; however, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department said it appeared that Yelchin mistakenly assumed he put the Jeep in park correctly. This falls in line with the recall that claimed more than 120 reported crashes resulting in 41 injuries were all associated with drivers mistakenly thinking they had put the vehicle in park.

NHTSA contends that the recalled vehicles need additional safeguards to protect consumers from a potentially dangerous product. Fiat Chrysler intends to fix the issue by making warning chimes more urgent and displaying the gears on the dashboard to inform the driver if the car is in park. They are also working on a transmission software that would prevent the vehicle from moving when the driver does not select park.

The affected vehicles are the 2014 and 2015 models. New designs do not use the same designed shifter in their vehicles. The list of recalled vehicles includes the following models:

  • 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees
  • 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers
  • 2012-2014 Chrysler 300S

If you or someone you love has been injured by one of the recalled vehicles, you may be able to take legal action against the manufacturer for the damages sustained. At Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather, Keen & Littky-Rubin, our Florida defective product attorneys understand the various dangers associated with defective, dangerous vehicles. You need to know that someone is on your side every step of the way, protecting your rights and helping you seek the compensation you need and deserve. Our firm is dedicated to helping you get through this and reach the outcome you desire. Call us today to discuss your potential claim.