General Motors, like most other car manufacturers, have–at one time or another–been forced to recall vehicles due to a malfunction or other issue that would cause the vehicle to perform improperly. Knowing this, it is hard to understand why GM would fail to place a recall on their popular Chevy Cobalt model for having faulty ignition switches. In fact, GM knew about the faulty ignition switches on the Cobalt models for 10 years before it issued a recall. One year following the release of the Cobalt model vehicle, GM created a “snap-on key cover” to help with the ignition problem. Service stations were told to install the key cover if owners complained. GM finally issued a mandatory recall this year in February. Unfortunately, the recall covers less than 50% of GM vehicles on U.S. roads that may have the ignition switch problem.
A faulty ignition switch has the potential to cause a vehicle’s engine to inadvertently shut off while driving. When this happens, the driver will also lose power steering and power braking abilities. Furthermore, airbags and anti-lock brake safety systems will be compromised. Imagine all these things occurring at the same time, while driving at highway speeds.
6 deaths have occurred as a result of the faulty ignition switch. One wrongful death lawsuit, which has since been settled, involved a nurse who died in a crash on her birthday in 2010. Her 2005 Cobalt’s ignition failed while she was driving about 58 mph. She lost control of the car and skidded into the path of an on-coming vehicle. She had just taken the car in for service the day before the crash happened. Details of the settlement are still confidential due to pending lawsuits involving dealers.
The issue here is that GM failed to properly alert interested parties, such as car dealers, service stations and customers, of the problem with the ignition switch. Their failure to do so has arguably led to 6 deaths. Even though they acknowledged the issue in 2005 via technical service bulletin, dealers were never told to install the key covers on the Cobalt keys before they were sold. Further, the dealers were never told that they needed to alert buyers of the issue with the ignition and its potential hazards. This will likely be a jumping-off point into an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration surrounding auto-maker’s policies on timeliness of recalls.
Toyota is another auto-maker that has come under fire for their recall practices. Toyota was actually fined $1.2 billion, the largest penalty of its kind; it is 350 times more than the maximum penalty that the NHTSA can levy on an auto-maker. The fine comes after Toyota admitted that they willingly concealed information and deceived the public about safety issues with some of its vehicles. One attorney in the matter stated “rather than promptly disclosing and correcting safety issues about which they were aware, Toyota made misleading public statements to consumers and gave inaccurate facts to members of Congress.” The attorney went on to say that consumers “have a right to expect that their vehicle is safe, and manufacturers must be forthright about safety issues and fix them quickly.” Auto-makers must keep in mind that announcing a recall may damage their organization’s reputation, but deceiving customers makes that damage more lasting. Toyota isn’t seeing the end of their legal troubles anytime soon though, the Securities and Exchange Commission continues their investigation into the company’s recall practices.
When dealing with the untimely death of a loved one, speaking with an experienced wrongful death lawyer will hopefully help to ease your mind a bit. Following your free consultation, should the wrongful death attorney find that your case has merit, work will begin immediately on your case so that you may receive the compensation and justice that is deserved for your injury or loss. The wrongful death lawyers will also fully investigate the incident, visit the scene of the incident and interview witnesses for your case.
If you or someone you know would like to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need to speak with a good wrongful death lawyer in your area. Call one of the experienced Myrtle Beach injury lawyers at The Mace Firm for South Carolina legal services. One of The Mace Firm’s Charleston injury lawyers is ready to speak with you about your case.