There were 13 deaths in 31 accidents that experts believe are linked to a defective ignition switch since 2004, according to media reports. This sad fact comes from the ongoing investigation of several GM models that may contain a faulty ignition component. If a vehicle defect – whether related to a faulty ignition switch or defective tires – causes an accident, victims can hold manufacturers responsible.
In this case, McSwain Engineering, a Pensacola, Florida failure analytics firm, has recently announced the results of its analysis of a 2010 crash that killed a Georgia nurse. Twenty-nine-year-old Brooke Melton was killed in a crash while driving in her Chevrolet Cobalt. Charlie Miller, a mechanic in Mississippi, examined the car and later sent his findings to McSwain for further testing. The firm found the ignition switch on the vehicle was in the accessory position, a slip that resulted from a faulty spring within the switch.
Lack of Notification Costs Lives
GM may have known about the problem back in 2004, according to media reports, and changed the spring’s design in 2006 to correct the problem. The U.S. Attorney’s office in New York has opened a criminal investigation to look into a possible cover-up of the fatal flaw. The FBI is also involved in the investigation to determine if GM was guilty of any wrongdoing in the notification and recall of this vehicle defect.
According to CBS News, GM had issued a service bulletin to dealerships warning about faulty ignition switches back in 2005. In the case of Brooke Melton, she had her car inspected five years later for abrupt engine shutdown while driving. The technicians cleaned the fuel injection, and sent Brooke on her way. The next day, Brooke was killed in the fatal crash for the same complaint that GM failed to fix.
Owners of the affected vehicles were never notified about the need to check their ignition switch until 2014. GM acknowledged that heavy key rings or rough roads can jolt the ignition switch out of place, causing the engine to shut off. The recall affects approximately 1.6 million cars:
- Chevrolet Cobalt 2005-2007;
- Chevrolet HHR 2006-2007;
- Pontiac Pursuit 2005-2006;
- Pontiac Solstice 2006-2007;
- Pontiac G5 2005-2007;
- Saturn Ion 2003-2007; and
- Saturn Sky 2007.
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Manufacturer Duty of Care to Notify of Defects
In the current investigation, experts from the legal and mechanical fields are citing that GM’s failure to inform customers and dealers about the replaced component was negligent and cost several people their lives. The evidence that the defective spring was redesigned in newer models of the affected vehicles, but never replaced in existing models, may be enough to prove negligence on GM’s part.
Drivers who own one of the vehicles listed in the recall should contact their local GM dealership immediately to obtain a free repair of the defective ignition switch. Because the part to repair the defective switch is not readily available at dealerships, GM is offering free loaner cars to drivers who own a defective model. There is also a cash offer of $500 for owners who want to buy or lease a new GM vehicle because they do not feel safe driving their current model.
Legal Help for Damages Related to Defective Vehicles
Vehicle manufacturers owe customers a duty of care to produce safe, reliable cars with no design or assembly flaws. When this duty is breached and harm comes to you or your family, you can take action. At Chalik & Chalik, our family is here to help your family recover the damages related to car accidents caused by manufacturer negligence or misconduct. Call 855-529-0269 or reach out to us via our contact form.