Auto giant General Motors was aware that an ignition switch problem would turn off the vehicle and disable the airbags in the event of a crash. For years the company knew this, records show, and yet it took them a decade to issue a recall for 2.6 million cars.
In the meantime, reports are that 13 people were killed as a result of this defect. One of those was a 16-year-old girl from Conway. Our Rock Hill car accident attorneys understand that the girl died in 2005 – four years after the vehicle defect was known – when she crashed into a tree and her airbags failed to deploy. She was her mother’s only child.
“As far as I’m concerned, this is murder,” the mother told a group of reporters, speaking out in advance of Congressional testimony offered by GM CEO Mary Barra. The primary focus was how her firm handled knowledge of potential dangers to consumers and the public in general. The overall consensus? Not well.
Barra did not head GM at the time it was actively ignoring this deadly problem, but she was the one who was grilled on Capitol Hill. It’s unclear whether former officials will be called to testify.
Product liability claims arising from defective vehicles and defective auto parts are more common than you might imagine. Even as GM deals with this 2.6 million-vehicle issue, it has issued another involving the sudden loss of power steering in some 1.3 million vehicles, including several models of Chevys, Saturns and Pontiac.
So far in 2014, GM has recalled a total of 6 million vehicles.
This makes the automaker’s reluctance to issue the ignition recall a little puzzling for the fact that it has issued more recalls on more of its models than any other car manufacturer since 2004. That’s according to a recent TIME analysis of federal car accident data. Over the course of a decade, GM has recalled individual models for specific issues nearly 760 times. Ford Motor Company is No. 2, with nearly 560 recalls. Chrysler is the third, with some 410 recalls during that time.
These numbers can be viewed a few different ways. On the one hand, recalls are issued when products are deemed unsafe, and it stands to reason that a company with more recalls is making more products that are unsafe. On the other hand, a recall represents a willingness to concede there is a potential safety issue – and offer to remedy it.
While a recall does not absolve a company of liability in the event of injury resulting from a product defect, failure to recall a product that is known to be dangerous could subject a manufacturer to even greater penalties.
Companies can initiate recalls, though sometimes, automakers are reluctant and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration must apply pressure to get the process started. However, automakers do value a public image that highlights safety and responsibility. A company that is cowed into issuing a necessary recall – particularly one that has resulted in more than a dozen deaths and countless injuries – isn’t going to win any favors.
Contact the South Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra, NHTSA to face Congress over 2.6-million-car recall, March 31, 2014, Associated Press
More Blog Entries:
Pursuing Civil Lawsuit Amid Criminal Prosecution, March 25, 2014, Rock Hill Car Accident Lawyer Blog