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Fiat Chrysler rammed by regulators over missing safety data

When you climb into your car or truck, unless you know that something might be amiss due to wear and tear, you expect it to be up to snuff and as safe to drive as the manufacturer can make it. If for any reason there's a defective part and it results in accidents that cause serious or fatal injury, victims in Texas need to know that options may exist for seeking compensation and recovering for damages suffered.

Success in that effort often requires being able to show that a manufacturer knew about a defect but failed to take adequate steps to correct things. And one of the ways those concerns are uncovered by regulators is through the regular reporting of issues. IF carmakers fail to meet their legal obligation, potentially deadly problems can fall through the cracks.

The latest example of what can happen if a company comes up short in its reporting has Fiat Chrysler in the crosshairs. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the company has agreed to pay $70 million in fines for not providing safety data as required.

The company acknowledges in the announcement that its reports have been lacking since 2003 by not including data about product-related consumer complaints, warranty claims, property damage claims, accident injuries and deaths. Fiat Chrysler blames the oversight on a coding problem in the system it uses.

The $70 million fine is on top of a $105 million penalty imposed earlier in 2015. That stemmed from bollixed up recalls covering 11 million of the company's vehicles. In addition to those fines, NHTSA is making Fiat Chrysler buy back hundreds of thousands of SUVs, pickups and other vehicles from consumers.

Owners of more than 1 million older model Jeeps that have gas tanks that are more vulnerable to fires are being informed that they can trade them in for more than their market value or accept $100 which can be put toward repairs.

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