Throughout the course of any given year, it is common for both automotive companies, as well as the manufacturers of various vehicle parts and components to recall defective or unsafe products from the market. According to a recall report recently produced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 650 safety recalls were enacted in 2012 alone, affecting nearly 18 million vehicles, child seats, and other pieces of equipment. The vast majority of these recalls were conducted by a responsible party immediately after they became aware of an issue, and this is essential to keeping consumers safe. However, when companies fail to act on their knowledge of design defects in a timely manner, they place millions of drivers in serious danger. In these scenarios, our civil justice system is crucial to protecting the rights of victims, and in subsequent lawsuits, personal injury lawyers play an essential role in holding corporations accountable when they put profits over people.
In this regard, 2014 has proven to be a tumultuous year for the automotive giant, General Motors (GM). During the initial three months of the calendar year, the company recalled 2.6 million of its small engine vehicles due to potential safety problems related to faulty ignition switches. The issue made it possible for ignition switches to easily be bumped, brushed or pulled from ‘on’ to ‘accessory’ or ‘off’ while vehicles were in motion, disabling the power steering and power breaks, as well as preventing the airbags from deploying in the event of an accident. The cause of such failures has since been attributed to a lack of torque, or pressure, being supplied by the switch indent plungers in these vehicles, which had been improperly designed.
This defect was not disclosed by GM, but was instead discovered by an attorney, who had sued the company on behalf of the family of a woman killed in an accident the ignition problem caused. It was found that GM had been holding meetings about the safety hazards of the issue as early as 2005, but had decided against a recall because it would take too long and cost an excessive amount of money. Because of this negligence, at least 12 other people have died in crashes involving these vehicles. (NHTSA; USA Today)
As part of a Consumer Protection Hearing on the matter, members of the U.S. Senate rebuked GM’s executives for their failure to take proper action despite clear knowledge of a problem for more than 10 years, calling it a ‘culture of cover-up’. By clicking this link, you can watch a clip from the proceedings, and learn more details about General Motors and the recall.
Our car accident lawyers are committed to protecting the victims of automotive design defects. If you have been injured, or if you are the survivor of loved one who has been killed in an accident caused by negligence or recklessness on the part of another party, call our attorneys now for a free legal consultation.