Defective GM Ignition Switch Blamed For More Than 300 Deaths
When GM first announced the recall to fix the problem of the defective ignition switches back in February, executives said that they had only recently become aware of the problem and were taking action to solve a serious safety concern. Later, critics blasted the automaker for sitting on evidence for years while innocent motorists died in accidents caused by the defective part.
Some claimed that GM knew about the problem as far back as 2004 or 2005, nearly a decade before the recall was announced. However, it was just revealed that GM actually knew of the problem as far back as early 2001, 13 years before it decided to issue a formal recall to owners.
Tragically, it appears that the recall not only could have happened more than a decade ago, sparing countless lives, but that the recall itself would not have been very costly or time-consuming. One major auto-parts company, Delphi Automotive, says that it expects to spend only between $2 and $5 replacing the ignition switch, a procedure which can be carried out in a matter of minutes.
GM’s delay in issuing the recall has prompted talk of lawsuits by the families of those injured and killed in accidents related to the faulty ignition switch. Though GM claims that only 12 people have died due to the faulty switch, the group Center for Auto Safety says it estimates that the number is closer 300. Though the issue is still in the early days, some analysts have said that they think GM could face legal liability of more than $1 billion, using Toyota’s recent debacle as a guide.
Beyond the prospect of expensive personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits, GM is also facing a serious investigation by federal safety regulators and even a possible criminal probe for its delayed recall. Senator Clair McCaskill who heads the subcommittee on consumer protection says that she intends to hold hearings on the matter in the coming weeks. McCaskill says that someone needs to get to the bottom of what happened and who dropped the ball that put millions of American motorists at risk.
If you or someone you know have been injured by a defective product and you would like to discuss your case with an attorney, please contact the Georgia product liability litigation attorneys at Pope, McGlamry, Kilpatrick, Morrison & Norwood, P.C. today to schedule a free consultation.
Source: “GM Now Says It Detected Ignition Switch Problem Back in 2001,” by Jeff Bennett, published at WSJ.com.
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