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Even if you’ve never owned a GM vehicle, the impact of General Motors recall may have far-reaching effects. The company knew about its vehicle defect more than a decade before it began recalls on the ignition switch defects on several late 1990s and 2000s vehicles. That means you were likely driving alongside millions of vehicles made by GM with faulty mechanics. There’s a reason the recall led to $900 million in criminal fines for the auto titan.
The GM ignition recall started in February 2014. It announced that 778,000 compact cars had a faulty ignition switch. That number eventually grew to more than 2.6 million within months of GM’s initial announcement. However, the faulty ignition switch recall prompted GM to recall more than 30 million vehicles, some with ignition troubles and some without.
The company filed bankruptcy in an effort to limit payouts for malfunctions caused by its ignition switch defects. However, in April 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court let a lower court’s opinion stand, saying that GM could not escape lawsuits filed before its bankruptcy.
What Was the Problem with GM’s Ignition Switches?
The faulty ignition problem resulted in a risk that a car’s ignition could more from “ON” position to the “ACCESSORY” or “OFF” position. This resulted in a loss or partial loss of electrical power and the engine turning off. This created a serious danger to people driving. For example, in many of the recalled vehicles, they could lose power brakes and power steering, rendering vehicles undrivable. Obviously increasing the chances of an accident. Further, in the event the lost power caused the driver to crash, the vehicle’s airbags wouldn’t deploy because without power, airbags are turned off.
Additionally, the vehicle’s ignition problems allowed removal of the key—even when the ignition is not in the “OFF” position. If the key is removed, the vehicle may roll. Specifically,
- If an automatic transmission is not in “park” there is the potential for the vehicle to roll away.
- If a manual transmission vehicles parking brake is not engaged and the transmission is not in reverse gear.
These two instances can result in the vehicle crashing and occupant or pedestrian injuries. A man recently died while saving his three-year-old daughter after the recalled car he was driving rolled into a river.
Because U.S. Courts ruled that General Motors cannot use its 2009 bankruptcy as a way to avoid lawsuits over its deadly ignition defects, if you or someone you know was injured or killed in one of the vehicles below, contact The Carlson Law Firm to discuss your case.
2009 and Before Recalled Vehicles
2004-2005 Malibu Classic
2000-2007 Monte Carlo
1999-2005 Grand Am
2004-2008 Grand Prix
Why Should I Care, I Don’t Drive One of the affected vehicles?
One of the many reasons you should care is because there are still hundreds thousands of affected vehicles on the road. GM has reported that a significant number of its recalled vehicles are actually never repaired. A spokesman for GM said the number of cars that are actually repaired within one year hovers around 80 percent, but that number jumps to 85 percent by year two. That means there are potentially half a million vehicles with faulty ignition switches on U.S. roads.
The second reason is the cause of the recall. There are thousands of vehicles still on U.S. roads where the main problem is the car can shut off while driving. This disables airbags, anti-lock brakes and power steering. The nature of the defect puts other motorists at-risk.
Most importantly, even if you don’t drive a GM vehicle, it’s still important that you share the information. Owners of pre-2009 vehicles may not know that may now file a lawsuit against the company.
GM Knew About the Ignition Switch Defects but Did Nothing
More than anything, the lack of corporate accountability is something Americans should care about. General Motors knew for more than a decade about the problem but did nothing to correct it. The company put profit over the health and safety of American citizens. We have a duty to hold corporations accountable for their failure to act when they are knowingly selling defective products. The fact of the matter is, the company knew about the faulty parts on their vehicles as early as 2002. It wasn’t until more than a decade later that GM launched its own internal investigation to find out why no one at the company ever acted on the information. Additionally, the NHTSA knew of the complaints about the vehicles, however, it twice failed to launch an investigation.
According to GM’s internal documents obtained by the New York Times, said that various engineering groups and committees considered ways to resolve the problem. The document goes on to say that the engineers did not understand that the ignition switch defects would cause the airbags not to deploy. In 2005, one of GM’s safety lawyers sent an email to a colleague that the problems with the Chevrolet Cobalt were inconsequential. The company’s position was that the ignition switch defects did not pose a risk to public safety.
GM was fined $35 million—the maximum under the law—for the delays in recalling the faulty ignitions. GM admitted that it broke federal law by not recalling the vehicles in a timely fashion.
The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
If you were involved in a serious collision where GM ignition switch defects caused an accident or possibly caused the airbag not to deploy, you may have a legal claim. Recalled vehicles include Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Saturn.
It is in your best interest to contact a skilled personal injury attorney. The team at The Carlson Law Firm has handled hundreds of GM’s cases. Contact us today.