Chrysler Rollaway Tragedy Highlights Problems with Emerging Car Technology

By now, many people have probably heard about how actor Anton Yelchin recently died when his vehicle rolled away and caused him to be pinned in between his car and a brick pillar. His vehicle which was a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee is just one of many vehicles that may be involved in a recall by Chrysler for a shifter defect that may have caused this unfortunate and devastating accident. If you or someone you love has been injured or died in an accident that may have been linked to this shifter defect, you need to speak to a vehicle defect and automobile accident lawyer with The Higgins Firm right away. We will listen to your case and make sure you get the compensation you need for what you have been through.


The Chrysler shifter defect is just one of many examples of the dangers presented by the hazardous combination of rapidly evolving automotive technology and a recall system that is inadequate to address safety defects and protect the public. The problem involves the transmission shifters which allow vehicles to roll away even after a driver believes he has put the vehicle in park. Chrysler has had problems with vehicle rollaways in other vehicles for years, usually as the result of the mechanical design of its transmissions. The specifics are unknown but this problem is likely related to a new shifter that shifts the transmission electronically.

This particular defect has been linked to certain Dodge Chargers, Sedans and Jeep Cherokees manufactured between 2012 and 2015 and has been under investigation by the NHTSA for two years. There have been over two hundred reported crashes according to the NHTSA database and at least forty people injured,  Despite these numbers and the length of time this problem has been under investigation, there was no recall announced until April. Even today, it appears that most people who own these cars have not even received recall notices, much less been given the opportunity to have the shifter fixed.


We still don’t know the exact reason for the Chrysler shifter problem. Chrysler wants to blame the problem on drivers who don’t put the vehicle in park and leave their vehicles with the engine still running.  The number of crashes and injuries however point to , this being a design defect.  Also, it’s important to point out that many of the consumer complaints on file do not fit the narrative provided by Chrysler in its recall documents. While Chrysler has done its best to portray the problem as being caused by user error, several consumer complaints describe terrifying scenarios where vehicles have allegedly rolled away despite the “P” light being illuminated. These complaints indicate that there may very well be a defect in the shifter’s software, hardware, or with the way the hardware and software interact, and that this potential defect may be causing vehicles to fail to shift into park despite user commands to do so.


Past experience has shown that the NHTSA lacks the resources and technical expertise needed to get to the bottom of complicated electronic defects. A prime example of this occurred in the Toyota sudden unintended acceleration investigation, where safety advocates and injured consumers contended that a defect in the vehicle’s electronic system caused the vehicles to accelerate without warning. Toyota, however, sought to blame the problem on faulty floor mats and drivers misapplying the gas pedal.


If you or someone you care about has been injured or died after an automobile accident that was caused by this Chrysler shifter defect, then you should contact a compassionate and experienced Nashville automobile accident lawyer at The Higgins Firm as soon as possible. We will help answer any questions you may have and gather any evidence that may be needed for your case. Then we will fight on your behalf to see to it that you get any compensation you may be entitled to for any injuries you have suffered.


Please contact us today online or by calling 800.705.2121 to discuss your legal options.


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