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Did GM Ignore Your Safety to Save a Mere $.57?

Multiple news sources reported General Motors’ (GM) recent recall. Car product recalls are still occurring on a relatively consistent basis. What does that mean for your and your family’s safety? Here’s what you need to know:

Over 2.5 million GM SUVs, cars and trucks have been recalled as a result of a defective ignition switch. There is a small spring in the ignition switch that stops working if there is too much weight on the key chain.  The simple act of driving over a bump can result in the engine stalling and/or losing power. This loss of power affects power brakes and power steering, as well as turning the air bags off. Of these recalled vehicles, over 824,000 of them are in the U.S. alone, with 1000s more internationally.

The list of recalled vehicles included (all versions of) these models:

  • Chevrolet HHR
  • Chevy Cobalt
  • Saturn Sky
  • Pontiac Solstice

GM made an error and did not change the product number for the fixed part. There is no way of knowing if the 2008-2011 models of these cars had been fixed or replaced or not. GM recommends that drivers remove everything from the key ring (leaving only the vehicle key) to avoid the defect from triggering.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) has reported that according to a report GM filed, the auto company was aware of this problem 10 years ago. The NHSTA itself has been under fire because they did not order GM to recall these vehicles when there was evidence for a recall.

The car company admitted to NHTSA’s claims that it knew about this problem for at least a decade before it decided to take action—the company did not start recalling these vehicles until February 2014. General Motors CEO Mary Barra was quoted as saying that fixing this product at the onset was “an unacceptable cost increase” when in fact it would have cost a mere 57 cents each to resolve.

GM has linked 13 deaths to this defect, but other sources cite up to hundreds of incidents that may have happened because of the faulty ignition switch. However, the number of accidents that occurred is insignificant; a majority of these victims were under the age of 25. Young people may not know how to handle this kind of situation, especially newly licensed drivers. Of these 13 deaths, one of them occurred in Wisconsin in 2006— a teenage girl was killed during a shopping trip.

Plans were announced by GM to improve this situation. The automobile company has set aside $750 million to pay for repairs; they have hired a new Safety Chief and are reviewing their recall processes.

A government investigation is currently underway examining GM’s behavior and potential reasoning for their actions. It is unknown whether or not any new auto safety legislation will develop from these events.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of using a faulty auto product, contact a Milwaukee personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A defective product can cause catastrophic injuries, and cases involving them can be quite complicated. Contact an experienced attorney who can stand up for your rights. The appropriate attorney will be able to determine the next steps in this type of situation. Call Hupy and Abraham for a free consultation at 800-800-5678.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham