On Feb. 13, 2014, General Motors, an American corporation better known as GM, began recalling nearly 780,000 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles for an ignition switch defect that could allow the key to unintentionally slip from the “run” to “off” or “accessory” position while the vehicle is being driven. This causes a sudden loss of engine power, including loss of power brakes and steering, and deactivation of the airbag systems.
Just 12 days later, an additional 590,000 2003-07 Saturn Ion, Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky vehicles were added to the already massive ignition switch recall. GM’s initial recall now encompasses 2.6 million vehicles with the potential to cause serious harm or even death to its occupants. While GM admits the ignition switch defect has been responsible for 13 deaths, independent safety experts agree the actual tally may be in the hundreds.
In June, GM recalled an additional 3.4 million midsize and large cars for the same ignition switch defect. In July, GM recalled 17 older model (1997-2005) vehicles. GM attributes seven crashes, three deaths and eight injuries to this latest group of recalled vehicles, which it says allows “inadvertent ignition key rotation.” So far, GM has recalled 17.5 million cars this year because of the ignition switch defect. The total number of all safety-related GM recalls now exceeds 29 million.
According to internal documents acquired in court, GM first learned of the defective ignition switch in 2004. However, the automaker has since admitted to learning of the ignition problems back in 2001 while testing the Saturn Ion. A fix for the defect was even revealed to be relatively inexpensive and easy to perform, yet GM opted not to spend the money.
Beasley Allen has filed numerous personal injury lawsuits and is now accepting cases involving ignition switch-related deaths and injuries. Minor injuries and economic losses related to GM’s ignition switch recall also are being looked into by our firm.
In response to claims of deaths and injuries related to its defective ignition switch, GM established a victim compensation fund, which is currently headed by Compensation Fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg. Following a personal, face-to-face meeting with Mr. Feinberg regarding GM’s compensation fund, Beasley Allen is now offering its clients the opportunity to submit claims, including those involving death and personal injury, to the plan. However, if the fund does not suit our clients’ wishes, our clients will have the option of going back to the court system.