US auto giant General Motors is in the middle of a firestorm of controversy focused mainly on its defective ignition switches in several models of its vehicles. Ongoing lawsuits and congressional investigations have revealed that GM was aware of this defect as early as 2005, but only recently initiated a limited recall. It took lawsuits, government intervention, and, sadly, consumer deaths and injuries before GM expanded the recall and publicly recognized the issue. Internal documents have recently come to light that indicate that GM not only knew about the issue, but chose to ignore it because of cost. GM has also recently admitted to violating federal law.
Based on the evidence from the initial lawsuits and the congressional investigation, consumers should be aware that there may be multiple defects at issue. Anyone injured while in a GM car of any make or model due to any of the following circumstances should contact a lawyer promptly to make sure that strict deadlines are met:
- Sudden loss of control
- Sudden loss of power
- Car black box or computer indicates that key was in “accessory” position
- Failure of an airbag to deploy
What is the History of the GM Ignition Switch Recall?
Complaints and other evidence of a problem with GM ignition switches began to appear in 2001. Reports of spontaneous engine cut-off in the Chevrolet Cobalt and Ion were filed as the cars unexpectedly lost power while driving. This caused the engine to turn off, loss of power steering and, in some cases, air bags were unable to deploy in the event of a crash. In many cases this loss of power and control was due to the ignition key moving from the “Run” position to the “Accessory” or even “Off” position without any input from the driver. Lopez McHugh is not ruling out the possibility that other defects may be causing similar problems in Ion, Cobalt, and other GM models.
The faulty ignition switch has been linked to hundreds of crashes and over 300 consumer deaths so far. However, these numbers do not account for the possibility that many other incidents could have been caused by GM defects and could have been avoided if GM had taken action sooner. Recalls only began in February of 2014 and were initially only ordered for 1.6 million GM vehicles. The recalls have been expanded to include some 13.6 million vehicles to date.
What Role Did GM Play in the GM Ignition Switch Recall?
GM took more than a decade to publicly recognize or acknowledge the possibility of an issue with the ignition switches used in their vehicles. And, after accepting a government bailout and filing for bankruptcy in 2009, the manufacturer claimed that it could not be held liable for any deaths which occurred before that bankruptcy filing.
However, a series of internal emails from 2005 uncovered during congressional hearings into the matter showed that GM was aware of the issue and had engaged in discussions about possible remedies. In the end, a cost of approximately 75-80 cents per vehicle proved too much for the auto maker to bear and they chose to do nothing. The switch was redesigned in 2006 but was not assigned a new part number, thus making the change virtually impossible to detect for those looking into the switches as a possible faulty mechanism in GM’s vehicles.
This year, GM was asked by a US Senator to voluntarily warn drivers of the risks of continued operation of their vehicles and to stop driving them until a new ignition switch could be installed. GM’s response was to advise against the use of keychains, key fobs, or other attachments to the key used to operate the vehicle. Requests for the company to compensate victims of crashes attributed to the faulty ignition switches were also met with silence.
On May 16, 2014 GM was ordered to pay a $35 million fine, the highest amount possible, for its failure to act on the ignition switch recall. Given the egregious nature of GM’s violations and the lengths the company went to absolve themselves of responsibility, the US Department of Transportation is asking for the fine to be increased to $300 million.
Since the May 16 order, GM has announced recalls on another 2.4 million vehicles bringing the total number of recalls for the corporation to 29 for 2014. This number includes 2 pending recalls that have not yet been made public.
What Can I Do About My GM Ignition Switch Recall Injury?
If all of the allegations against GM are true, it could be subject to punitive damages for its actions. But GM is a large multi-national corporation making billions of dollars in revenue every year. You need the advice and counsel of a qualified legal team to hold GM responsible for its actions. Lopez McHugh attorneys go up against corporations every day; be it in the manufacturing, pharmaceutical, or medical device industries, and have a proven track record of success measuring into the billions of dollars in recovered funds. We have the knowledge and the resources to pursue your claim to the very end, regardless of what the opposition might put in our way.
Your first step in your GM recall injury lawsuit is to contact one of our attorneys to discuss the specifics of your claim. It is only after that that we can formulate a plan to get you the compensation you deserve. You can contact us here from our website or call us at (877) 737-8525 to speak with someone today about your next steps.