Losing a family member can be hard, but the pain can be even more amplified when the death should never have happened in the first place. Steve Smith, a former GM parts maker, had to endure that pain when his daughter, Aubrey Williams—the mother of two of his grandchildren—was killed in a car accident with an 18-wheeler hauling logs. Steve knew something wasn’t right. His daughter was always an exceptionally safe driver, yet the police report chalked the accident up to distracted driving.
That all changed when GM recalled millions of vehicles with ignition switch defects. The defect causes the key position to move from “on” to “accessory” while the car is in motion. Consequently, both power steering and power brakes are disabled, robbing the driver of control. Then, when a crash occurs, the airbags do not inflate.
After GM started recalling cars for their faulty switches, Aubrey’s collision was revisited and it was eventually concluded by the investigating officer that the cause was a mechanical malfunction rather than distracted driving. Also, the officer had originally noted that the airbag deployed, but on further observation, he reported that the car was too damaged to know whether or not that had occurred. If the airbag had deployed, that would have indicated the switch was not a cause of the crash.
The officer’s primary motivation for revisiting the crash was to ease the pain of Aubrey’s parents. He wanted to assure them that their daughter was not at fault. Her toxicology tests showed that she had not been drinking or under the influence of drugs.
If anything, the officer’s assurance only increased Mr. Smith’s feelings of guilt about the crash. He believed that he had not checked the car thoroughly enough for his daughter. It had shown signs of problems, including the ignition switch not turning and the car having shut off at least once while she was driving. But that was before the recall and seemed like an isolated incident. Had the recall been issued sooner, as it should have been, Aubrey’s life might have been spared.
Sorting out who is responsible after a crash can be complicated, but you don’t have to go it alone. If you or a family member was badly injured in a crash in a car with a defective part, call us at 888.777.1776 oruse our online contact form. Delays can hurt your case, so please don’t wait.