There have been a number of news stories lately regarding the problems that General Motors (GM) has had with ignition switches in some of its vehicles, specifically the Chevy Cobalt. For some drivers, the keys would fall out of the ignition switches, or the engine would unexpectedly shut off, resulting in the vehicles losing power. The loss of power steering and braking ability caused several fatal car accidents for the drivers of these cars.
Like with many other defective car investigations, the inquiries have been focused on when GM became aware of the problems. In 2005, the company declined to issue a recall on the faulty parts despite knowing that there may be potential issues. They advised dealers to tell customers that reported problems to remove any key chains that they may have been using when operating the vehicles.
Two subsequent government investigations failed to uncover the issues. In 2013, an engineer for GM disclosed that the company knew of the problems, but failed to take any action to correct the defects, due to cost concerns. In 2014, GM notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that the defects existed in over 600,000 vehicles, and the automaker finally issued a recall of over two million vehicles.
During this nearly seven-year period, it is estimated that over 30 people have died in crashes related to the faulty ignition switch. It is expected that this number will increase as knowledge of the problems becomes more widespread, and officials can go back and determine if this was a factor in other crashes as well. Meanwhile, there were filed cases where individuals were harmed or killed and GM had denied liability and causation for the incidents.
It was recently announced the GM was fined $35 million by the NHTSA, the maximum allowed, for its actions. The company has faced increased criticisms over its internal policies concerning vehicle safety. Additional investigations by other government agencies could result in additional fines.
If you believe you may have a case related to the GM recall, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn more. Your attorney will be able to perform a comprehensive investigation and review of the facts present in your specific situation, and help you decide on your next steps.
You may be eligible for compensation for your injuries and damages, or potentially be able to file a wrongful death case if you lost a loved one in a crash related to the defects. Do not accept any settlement offers until you have discussed them with your attorney.