GM Car Recalls Still Developing After Unconscionable Delay

General Motors wrongfully delayed the inevitable when it reacted to reports of vehicle defects only with letters to dealers and car owners offering free repairs. Those notice letters also neglected to inform owners of the potential dangers inherent to the defect. The problem was a defect with the ignition switch that, when coupled with a heavy key ring or a bump in the road, shut off power to the engine.

The first time GM learned of the defect was in 2004, shortly after the Chevrolet Cobalt first went on sale. By 2007, GM had learned of at least one fatal car accident linked to the engine power defect. GM defended its decision not to recall the vehicles until recently, indicating that about 97% of affected vehicles had already been repaired. Still, the injured parties and families of thirteen victims who died in car accidents linked to the defect can’t help but wonder what could have prevented the car manufacturer from warning its customers? The most likely answer is money.

Presumably, GM must have done a cost-benefit analysis, and that analysis resulted in a decade-long delay. It was, perhaps, considered more cost effective to leave the cars on the road and address damages in a lawsuit after the fact, than it would have been to issue a recall back when the company first learned of the flaw.

Although General Motors will have to defend its decision in front of Congress and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, government fines are capped at $35 million for cases such as this.

More than fifty class action personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits have sprouted across the country from the manufacturing defect, but GM lawyers are seeking dismissals under the theory that damages were caused by the “Old GM.” In 2009, “Old GM” went bankrupt and split its assets and liabilities into two companies: “Old GM” and “New GM.” So lawyers for the New GM are seeking dismissals for all of the cases against them for the product defect, insisting that the injured parties must file lawsuits against Old GM—which of course has few assets for which to answer claims.

Trial lawyers from all over the United States are fighting against this proposed liability shield, arguing that because GM knew of the ignition defect prior to the 2009 bankruptcy, failure to inform the bankruptcy court of the potential liability constituted intentional misconduct.  

As families and victims wait for answers, General Motors is still doing surprisingly well for a company that has just recalled millions of vehicles. In fact, GM has even used the recall as a sort of sales opportunity, offering affected customers an employee discount on new car purchases for themselves or a household member.

This is the sort of behavior that makes expert personal injury lawyers a necessity, namely where big and successful corporations act in their own self interest over the safety of the general public.

About the Author:

The writer is an expert in the field of Japanese Cars with focus onBoston Injury Lawyer  and  Boston Personal Injury Lawyer   etc..