On behalf of Kammholz Law PLLC posted in Wrongful Death on Thursday, April 3, 2014.
Recalls to automobiles happen with some regularity in the United States. Some can be expensive for the car manufacturer in question, and issuing a recall might be a blow to a company’s reputation and prestige. However, getting a recall started can prevent against a large number of people driving around with a defect — one that could potentially lead to a fatal accident. A congressional committee released documents this week detailing General Motors’ reaction to finding out that about 2.6 million of its cars had a defective ignition switch, which could shut off and disable the car’s engine and safety system, including power steering and power brakes. According to estimates at the time, the fix would have cost the carmaker about $1 per vehicle. However, the recall didn’t occur until this year, even though the company knew about the problem in 2005 and elected not to fix it. At least 13 people have been killed in accidents as a result of a faulty ignition switch in the time since then. The problem was intensified by the company, which apparently replaced the switch the following year with an improved model — but did not change the part number. This made tracking problems more difficult. The new CEO of the company said such a thing would not happen today, and couldn’t account for the lack of adherence to company procedures. When defective products lead to people getting injured or losing their lives, the negligent parties could be held accountable. Cases such as this one demonstrate just how easily a defective and potentially dangerous product might be widely available to millions of unsuspecting consumers. Source: Reuters, “GM Didn’t Fix Deadly Ignition Switch Because It Would Have Cost $1 Per Car,” Paul Lienert and Marilyn Thompson, April 2, 2014