The total cost of GM’s ignition switch catastrophe may never be known. Some of the cost to car crash victims and their families can’t really even be counted. Is there a dollar figure that can be placed on a human life?
GM knew for over ten years that many of its vehicles contained faulty ignition switches. Those switches have caused hundreds, maybe even thousands, of car accidents in the more than 10 years that these vehicles have been on the market.
Those accidents have led to hundreds of serious injuries and at least 174 deaths! GM could have easily prevented many of these car accidents with a simple recall of the affected vehicles–the cost of the replacement part was merely a dollar per vehicle. However, GM failed to recall the vehicles despite the low cost per vehicle.
GM finally recalled over 2.4 million vehicles with the defective ignition switches after they had learned of several deaths in crashes attributed to ignition switch malfunction. Faulty ignition switches in millions of Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other small GM cars could suddenly turn off, stalling the engine, disabling steering and brakes, and preventing air bags from inflating. Unfortunately, by the time GM did make the recall, hundreds of car accidents had already occurred. Hundreds of people had been severely injured, and almost 200 were known to have died. In addition, it is still unknown as to how many other car accidents with unknown causes were actually due to these defective switches.
When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) first learned of the defective ignition switches in the GM vehicles, they also learned that GM had known about this defect for almost 10 years before it was reported. GM’s failure to report the defect earned them over $900 million in penalties and fines. Beyond the penalties and fines, GM has already paid roughly $2 billion in criminal and civil penalties and settlements in connection with the switch.
GM has attempted to have the claims related to the defective ignition switches dismissed based on the company’s 2009 bankruptcy proceedings. However, appellate courts have determined that victims who have been affected by the faulty ignition switch can bring a claim and file a lawsuit against GM for damages because GM failed to alert the public of the defect before the bankruptcy.
Defective products can be deadly. If you or someone you know suffered a serious injury due to a defective vehicle, please contact Alexander Law Group, LLP immediately to discuss your rights. Call 888.777.1776 right now, for a free, confidential, and personal consultation with one of our attorneys or contact us online.