There has been a lot of publicity about the safety recall by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of certain General Motors cars that have defective ignition switches. There are several storylines, such as the injuries and deaths that have been caused by the switches, the lawsuits that have been filed, and the effects of GM’s bankruptcy on lawsuits. A less prominent one is that people have been convicted of crimes for vehicular manslaughter, when the wrecks were not their fault.
The faulty switches cause the car’s engine to stall when it suddenly changes from the “on” position to the “accessory” position without warning. This results in the power steering and power brakes to stop functioning, and the airbags failing to deploy if a wreck ensues.
Drivers of vehicles in which fatalities occurred have been convicted of crimes such as manslaughter when their crashes were actually caused by faulty ignition switches. Most often, the wrecks occurred before the switch recall was publicized. The drivers may have felt that something went wrong with the car before the crash but were unaware of the recall. Once that information became known, some sought to have their convictions overturned.
A Pennsylvania woman who pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter is currently seeking to have her conviction overturned because of the newly acquired information about the likely effect of the faulty switch on her ability to maintain control of her car. A Texas woman was successful in obtaining a “not guilty” verdict in a retrial after previously having been convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
So far there have been well over 100 deaths associated with the faulty ignition switches. The pain and suffering of those injured and the families of those killed is significant. Now we know that people suffered by being charged and convicted of crimes when they were not guilty.
Car makers have a duty to act responsibly in manufacturing their products. If you or a loved one was injured due to a defective automobile, contact the attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP at 888.777.1776 for a free case consultation. Car makers who irresponsibly harm others should be held accountable for their actions.