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General Motors Ignition Switch Issue Linked To 31 Crashes And 13 Deaths

Dan Brian   |  March 13, 2016   |  

Update and News:

NBC news reported on March 17, 2014 that GM will be taking the $300 million charge for ignition recall costs. In addition, GM announced three more recalls that will include 1.5 million cross-over utility vehicles, vans and sedans for issues concerning side impact airbags. The midsize crossover vehicles that are affected include about 1.18 million vehicles to include:

  1. 2008 to 2013 Buick Enclave
  2. 2008 to 2013 GMC Acadia
  3. 2008 to 2010 Saturn Outlook
  4. 2009 to 2013 Chevrolet Traverse CUVs

According to GM, the side impact airbags can corrode over time and fail if not corrected. GM is reporting no injuries or accidents related to yesterday’s recall.

Update on the Defective Ignition Switch Recall:

On Friday March 14, a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Texas against GM concerning the defective ignition switch. The lawsuit alleged that GM knew about this problem since 2004 but failed to correct it. The plaintiffs are seeking damages for loss of use and repairs and loss of value to the vehicles. The attorneys representing the plaintiffs are proposing a class action.

What did General Motors know about its dangerous ignition switch problem that has been linked to 13 deaths? The investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into how General Motors (GM) handled the dangerous ignition problem that triggered the recall of 1.6 million older-model compact cars.

In February 2014, GM recalled 780,000 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s (model years 2005 to 2007). A couple weeks later, GM recalled an additional 842,000 Saturn Ion compact cars (2003 to 2007) and Chevrolet HHR SUVs, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky cars (2006 to 2007). GM claims that a heavy key ring or jarring from rough roads could cause the ignition switch to slip from the run position and shut down the engine and power to the car. As a result, the vehicle can suffer a loss of steering, power brakes, and other safety systems. It is reported in some fatality cases that the air bags did not deploy. It is not known whether the ignition malfunction caused the crashes. It is also unknown whether the fatalities were related to the failure of the air bags to deploy.

GM has admitted that it knew about the ignition switch issue years ago but did not issue the recall notice until this year. As a result of its investigation, the NHTSA has demanded documents from GM to determine if GM did something wrong. Safety regulators will examine whether GM knowingly allowed the vehicles on the road despite the dangerous ignition switch issue and whether GM’s response to this issue was delayed. Has GM withheld evidence? The investigation will continue.

GM has been sued for deaths involving the ignition switch malfunction and may face a criminal investigation if the safety investigation reveals conduct to support prosecution. As of this date, we understand that GM has not commented on any of the civil claims related to crashes involving the ignition defect. We understand that GM has admitted that it has been able to reproduce the failure of the ignition switch during test drives but refuses to acknowledge the number of lawsuits filed over this problem.

On March 13, ABC news reported on Good Morning America that there could be as many as 300 deaths associated with this problem as it is related to air bag failures in 2 of its models. ABC news is also reporting that a criminal investigation may be ongoing. For now, the investigation by the NHTSA will continue and we will offer updates as we receive them.

Presently, GM is giving written notifications of the recall to owners of the affected models. GM dealers will replace the faulty ignition switch but until the switch is replaced the owner/driver should not put any item on the key and not use key chains. In other words, just use the key to the ignition switch and only the key, and attach no items to it. As always, Riddle and Brantley strongly encourages all drivers to refrain from texting and driving and to otherwise follow all rules of the road to prevent accidents. We encourage all occupants of vehicles to buckle up as soon as you get in the auto.

The product liability attorneys at Riddle and Brantley are prepared to investigate the cases involving serious injuries or deaths resulting from crashes involving the GM models that have been recalled for ignition switch problems. If you have a question concerning any matter involving a serious injury or death, call us at 800-525-7111 or fill out the Free Case Review form located at the top right hand corner of this page and your claim will be reviewed immediately.