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GM Product Recall and Products Liability Lawsuits‎ Related to Ignition Switch — What You Should Know

ignition image

Steering Column

When we get in our vehicles and drive on Massachusetts’ roads, we do not expect that our vehicles may cause us injury. However, GM has recently come under fire for a faulty ignition switch that has been linked to at least 12 deaths and more than 1.6 million vehicles recalled.

The problem comes from the ignition cylinder on the steering column unexpectedly turning to the off position while the vehicle may still be in motion and causing the power steering and air bags to deactivate. A plunger and spring within the ignition, holding the cylinder in place, had weak compression allowing a small amount of torque to move ignition cylinder.

Technical Service Bulletin
According to retrieved court documents, a 2005 GM Technical Service Bulletin (“TSB”) had been issued warning that customers that had heavy key chains may be inadvertently hitting the keys with their knees and turning off the ignition. The TSB recommended that the customers remove the extra keys from the key rings. They could also add an insert in the opening of the key ring to prevent the keys from jostling and hanging low. The allegations are that GM never made the insert mandatory and continued to sell problematic cars.

Cases and NHTSA Investigation
Several products liability lawsuits are ongoing, and owners in several states are seeking a class-action lawsuits. Investigations have been initiation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”). The NHTSA has a issued special order requiring the auto maker to turn over all documents concerning the troubled recall. There is some indication that GM knew of the problem all the way back to 2004, and there are allegations that GM made a business decision not to issue a recall or fix the problem.

What You Should Know
GM and the NHTSA have initiated a product recall. Furthermore, the NHTSA and GM have recommended that owners of the suspected vehicles use the ignition key without anything hanging from the key ring. The list of recalled vehicles include:

  • 2005 – 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt
  • 2003 – 2007 Saturn Ion
  • 2006 – 2007 Chevrolet HHR
  • 2006 – 2007 Pontiac Solstice
  • 2005 Pontiac G5
  • 2007 Saturn Sky

If your vehicle is on the recall list, GM has provided a list of FAQs along with contact information on their website. A complaint can be filed on the NHTSA website. Finally, whatever vehicle you own, it is recommended that you frequently check the NHTSA database to determine if your vehicle has a product recall.

The NHTSA Determination
Product recalls prevent dangerous vehicles from being on the road. Sometimes an auto manufactures will take it upon themselves to issue a recall when they discover a dangerous hidden defect. Other times, the NHTSA will initiate a product recall when they have received enough reports and complaints indicating a specific vehicle and defect. The NHTSA will do an investigation and determine if a manufacture should be required to do a vehicle recall.

Recalls Do Not Completely Prevent Accidents
Recalls are critical to keeping our roads safe and should be conducted in a timely manner. Recent NHTSA figures indicated that almost 22 million vehicles were recalled in 2013 in 632 separate recalls. This is the highest number of vehicles since 2004. Unfortunately, as the GM cases allege, not all recalls are done in a timely manner, and people are still injured or killed.

What You Should Do
When a person is injured by a defective product or vehicle they can sue the manufacturer, the distributor, or dealer. The claim can assert that a defective design made the product inherently dangerous or the manufacture failed adequately warn the consumer of the hazard.

Automobile accident injuries occur every day. If you or someone you know has been injured due to a suspected defective vehicle, it is recommended that you speak with a local products liability lawyer as soon as possible so that they may help you obtain compensation you deserve.

Local attorney, John C. Manoog III, has extensive experience handling product liability claims. For a free initial consultation, call the office at 888-262-6664 or reach us by email. There is always someone available to talk to you about your case.

Additional Resources:
Latest Recalls Announced By Manufacturers, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Website

What is a Safety Recall?, 2014, U.S. Department of Transportation

Related Blog Posts:
First Circuit Dismisses Massachusetts’ Products Liability Claim For Failing To Show Inherent Danger In Crocs — Geshke v. Crocs, INC., Feb. 19, 2014, Cape Cod Injury Lawyer Blog

Massachusetts Police Announce Increased Efforts to Enforce Safe Driving Law, Jun. 12, 2013, Cape Cod Injury Lawyer Blog