Thirteen deaths, hundreds of complaints and countless injuries over the course of 11 years have led General Motors (GM) to recall more than 1.6 million vehicles around the world. Just when the automobile-giant was climbing out of its bankruptcy mess, it is now facing a whole new set of challenges ahead.
Models involved in the GM ignition switch recall include the Chevy Cobalt, Saturn Ion, Pontiac Pursuit, Pontiac Solstice, Pontiac G5, Saturn Sky and Chevrolet HHR have all been recalled because of ignition issues. Apparently, according to consumer claims, the ignition in these cars may randomly shut off with the car in motion – often at high speeds. This defect, which was widely shrugged off for more than a decade, is now linked to 13 deaths, leading to the recall and to speculation about consumer protections and rights.
According to a recent New York Times article, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received an average of two complaints per month about the ignition issues, since 2003. In each circumstance, the safety agency responded saying that there were not yet enough incidents to constitute a safety defect trend, and thus it would not launch an investigation.
The complaints told horror stories of drivers fearing for their lives, as the ignition would switch off, without warning, causing the breaks, steering and airbags to shut down as well. Even former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, wrote a letter to the safety agency about the problem.
The NHTSA launched an investigation into the timeliness of GM’s defect determination, with the agency wondering why it took so long for them to report this defect.
However, according to the New York Times, there were more than 8,000 complaints filed with the NHTSA about the recalled models. Of those analyzed by the publication, 267 involved complaints of the engine randomly shutting off, though it does not specify whether it was ignition related or not. Also, the same driver could’ve filed multiple complaints, so the data is may be considered suspect.
In their defense, the NHTSA claims that the complaints received represent less than a quarter of one percent of the cars recalled, and that there was not enough evidence to not consider them isolated events.
The attorneys at Garland & Mason, L.L.C., have nearly 40 years of combined experience practicing law in New Jersey. If you think you have a product liability or consumer rights case, contact us today for a free consultation.