In the midst of all the media attention that the Takata airbag recalls received, many did not notice that an entirely separate defect issue was taking hundreds of lives and injuring hundreds more. Specifically, over 2.5 million cars were recalled by General Motors two years ago due to the fault ignition switch which, when it slips out of place, causes the engine, brakes, ignition, and steering to stop working. On September 5, General Motors settled two of the many claims brought, bringing the total amount paid out in civil and criminal penalties by the company to approximately $2 billion.
General Motors has, to date, paid out millions to families who have lost their loved ones as a result of the defect, while others have decided to proceed with their cases. The two settled earlier this month are known as “bellwether” cases because they are, in a sense, “testing out” the legal claims for hundreds of other similar claims that are coming. In these bellwether cases, two separate accidents resulted in injuries as a result of the faulty switches (which ultimately led to the airbags failing to work). Meanwhile, other federal cases will be proceeding to trial in 2017 and 2018.
A Decade of Silence?
Even more alarming, the company has acknowledged that some employees knew about the switch defect for years before the recall was initiated; some news sources are even reporting that they knew about it for a decade or so before taking action. The issue has, thus far, been linked to over 120 deaths and 275 injuries. In settling just the death and injury claims, the company has paid out close to $875 million, with an additional $300 million for shareholder lawsuit settlements.
As of now, it appears that the company has been settling the ‘stronger’ cases, while allowing what they see as the ‘weaker’ ones to proceed to court. However, the company still has a long way to go until it is out of hot water. Although many vehicles were recalled, many were also still left in use, inevitably leading to more and more injuries and deaths for innocent consumers who rely on these vehicles every day.
Vehicle Accident and Personal Injury Attorneys
Each year, thousands of people are injured in motor vehicle accidents. Sadly, these accidents are sometimes linked to companies behaving negligently and placing people’s lives at risk when they do. Many could be prevented simply by the wrongdoer taking common sense steps to ensure safety for everyone.
The accident and injury attorneys at Harrell & Nowak have helped many victims throughout Louisiana obtain financial compensation for their injuries when someone else’s negligence is responsible for the harm suffered. If you have been wronged and are in need of legal assistance, our lawyers will work to ensure that your rights are protected and your financial needs met. Contact us today for a free consultation.