Lee M. Schwalben, M.D., J.D., LLC
Personal Injury Law
Admitted to practice in Louisiana, New York, New Jersey and *Florida
Free Consultation
Lake Charles 337-494-5757 Baton Rouge 225-763-7777 Toll Free 855-755-5757

Could even 1 car accident have been avoided by timely recall?

By now, most if not all Louisiana General Motors car owners are aware their vehicles may be subject to a recall. The recall is for faulty ignition switches in several GM model vehicles. Numerous accidents and 13 deaths are linked to the problem so far. Now, a question as to whether even one deadly car accident could have been avoided if GM had issued a recall when it first discovered the problem nearly 10 years ago.

An investigation was recently launched to answer that question. Both GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are under fire for not instituting a recall and investigation into the problem years ago. Evidence has surfaced indicating that GM became aware of the problem in 2004. The only action taken at that time was to issue a warning to dealers in 2005. Even when the automaker was made aware of the death of a 16-year-old girl in 2007, a recall was not issued.

The problem with the ignition switch is that it may fall into the "accessory" position while the vehicle is in operation. This will shut down all safety mechanisms such as ABS brakes, power steering and airbags. Until the parts are available to dealers to fix the problem, motorists are urged to remove their ignition key from any key rings. Apparently, the weight of a key ring can increase the probability of the failure of the ignition switch.

The number of people injured so far in the 31 crashes identified is not known. Only the number of deaths was released. Any Louisiana resident that has suffered injuries or lost a loved one due to this problem retains the right to file civil action against GM. The evidence necessary to prove it was GM's faulty ignition switch that caused the car accident resides in the vehicle's black box, which records data regarding the car and is routinely used by law enforcement to determine the condition of a vehicle in a crash. If negligence is proved, an award of damages could be made by the court.

Source: Los Angeles Times, NHTSA is investigating delay of General Motors recall, No author, Feb. 27, 2014