Prior to rolling out a new make or model of a car or truck, auto makers and manufactures must ensure the vehicle is free of any defective components and safe for consumers. Failure on the part of an auto maker and manufacturer to follow these regulatory measures may result in defective components being used in automobiles which pose a danger to consumers and a threat to public safety.
In 2006, three teenage girls were traveling along in a Chevy Cobalt when the 19-year-old driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a telephone pole and trees. Two passengers who were in the car, ages 15 and 18, were killed in the fatal crash. The 19-year-old driver suffered severe and debilitating injuries including a brain injury.
This past February, General Motors officially recalled 1.6 million cars believed to contain defective ignition switch components which cause a vehicle’s ignition to unexpectedly switch modes thereby disabling a vehicle’s airbag system as well as a driver’s ability to steer and brake. While GM first learned of the defective auto part in 2001 and took action in 2005 to notify car dealers, a formal recall of the GM makes and models believed to contain the part was not issued until Feb. 2014.
In the 13 year span prior to the recall, GM reports that 12 deaths and 34 crashes have been linked to cars that contained the defective auto part. The families of the three teenage girls who were injured or killed in the 2006 crash recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against GM.
This lawsuit represents the first of what may be several; wrongful death suits filed against GM in relation to the defective ignition switches. The plaintiffs in the case are seeking to recover damages in excess of $50,000 each.
Source: The Huffington Post, “GM Hit With Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over Ignition Defect,” Reuters, March 24, 2013