General Motors under fire for deaths linked to ignition switch recall of Chevrolet, Pontiac, Saturn models

by Jim Orr

Since February 2014, General Motors recalled more than 2.5 million vehicles because of an ignition switch problem that was linked to several fatal accidents. According to a press release, the ignition on several Chevrolet, Pontiac, and Saturn models could be accidentally switched off while being driven, causing the engine to shut off. Essential safety features—including power brakes, power steering, and airbags—could stop working because of this problem, putting drivers at risk of a serious accident. At least 303 deaths have been linked to problems with the recalled GM models so far.

Subsequent investigations have revealed that GM may have known about the ignition switch problem for years before the company issued the recall notice. Evidence that the company was aware of the problem with the ignition switch on the recalled vehicles as early as 2001 prompted the FBI and the U.S. Attorney General’s office in New York to open criminal investigations into the GM recall and the company’s handling of safety problems with its vehicles.

In the weeks since the ignition switch recall was first issued, GM has faced scrutiny on several fronts for its handling of the ignition switch recall, including hearings before Congress and several lawsuits:

  • A new investigation has revealed that it would have cost GM just 57-cents to fix the ignition switch part that prompted the massive recall.
  • Despite the pleas of families whose loved ones were killed in an accident, GM has refused to publicly disclose a confirmed list of victims who were killed by an accident involving the recalled ignition switches.
  • General Motors CEO Mary Barra refused to rule out the possibility that the company would try to use its 2009 bankruptcy to shield itself from liability for crashes that occurred before that date.
  • At least 15 consumer fraud class actions have been filed against GM since the recall was first announced in February. Several personal injury and securities fraud claims have also been filed against the company in connection with the ignition switch recall.
  • Consumers in California have filed a class action lawsuit against GM  for violating a state’s “secret warranty” law, which requires automakers to inform consumers when they are eligible to receive a free rental car for their recalled vehicle.

General Motors Recall and Vehicle Crashworthiness

Car and truck manufacturers have a responsibility to build cars that are as safe as possible under the current state of vehicle design, mechanical technology, and safety regulations. These manufacturers must also design vehicles to be safe for any reasonably foreseeable use, including the possibility of collision. When vehicles are not built in a way that enables them to properly withstand an accident, the manufacturer may be at fault for any injuries that occur during a crash.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident, the injuries that occurred because of the crash may have been caused by the design of the vehicle, or made worse because the vehicle was not able to sufficiently withstand a crash. It is important to retain experienced, qualified legal counsel at the earliest opportunity after a car accident has occurred in order to determine whether you may be eligible to file a lawsuit over the crashworthiness of your vehicle.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have the experience and knowledge to pursue a auto defect or crashworthiness claim against any of the major auto manufacturers, including General Motors. To receive a free legal consultation and find out if you are eligible to file a lawsuit, contact Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free contact form located on the top of this page.

by Jim Orr

Jim Orr is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P focusing on business and personal injury litigation. Jim was selected multiple times to the Super Lawyers List and has tried 70+ cases to verdict.