General Motors is now coming under even greater scrutiny in the wake of a new study linking 303 fatalities to two of the vehicle lines it recalled over ignition safety problems. Among the 1.4 million autos recalled in the US, a number of them were Saturn Ions and Chevrolet Cobalts.
According to the Friedman Research Corporation, which conducted the study, all of these deaths involved air bag failures that happened between 2003 and 2012. The passengers that died were sitting in front seats during the non-rear impact crashes.
The Center for Auto Safety, which is the private watchdog group that ordered the study, wrote a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wanting to know why the agency did not identify not just the ignition switches problems involving the GM vehicles but also the air bag failures. Regulators, however, are saying that there wasn’t enough evidence to merit a probe.
NHTSA has been looking into whether General Motors violated regulations by not reporting the ignition switch problem within five days of finding out about it. Yesterday, the automaker finally admitted that it knew about the safety issue as far back as 2001. That’s three years sooner than previous reports, which said that the manufacturer already knew about the problem in 2004. GM could be facing a huge multimillion-dollar fine for the violation.
The ignition safety problem has been linked to at least 13 car accident deaths and 31 collisions. The danger seems to arise when a driver is operating the car on very rough roads or using a heavy key chain. This can shut down the power as well as the power brakes, steering, and air bags—the latter a necessary safety measure to prevent occupants from injury should an accident ensue from everything else turning off. Also conducting its own probe is The House Energy and Commerce Committee in the US Congress.
Already, GM ignition switch lawsuits and air bag defect cases related to the vehicles involved in the recall have been filed and settled. Now, with the latest announcements, more auto defects lawsuits against the automaker over the two safety problems are likely.
If you think you or your loved one may have sustained serious injuries because the ignition switch of a GM vehicle failed or one of the airbags in its autos did not go off, please contact our auto products liability law firm today. The Gilbert Law Group® has gone after some of the largest automakers in the world to get our clients the financial recovery they are owed. Your initial case consultation with us is free.
Also this week, the US Attorney’s office in New York has opened up a criminal probe to find out if General Motors did anything criminally related to the ignition switch problem. The FBI is working with federal prosecutors in New York. The New York Times says that the Department of Justice is also investigating.