When consumers buy a new car, they assume it is free of defects and safe to drive. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The latest recall of GM vehicles is a case in point.
General Motors’ faulty ignition switch and subsequent recall has affected approximately 29 million vehicles nationwide. Initial reports stated that 13 fatalities had been officially attributed to the ignition switch defect, but a recent report from Reuters states that the number of deaths linked to defective GM ignition switches has now risen to 23. Another 16 people have been confirmed to have suffered a serious injury as a direct result of a faulty GM ignition switch. These 16 victims have been determined to be eligible to recover damages from the fund established to compensate accident victims and their families.
Since August 1, a total of 867 insurance claims have been submitted to General Motors from accident victims or their family members for cases of serious injury or loss of life as a result of a GM defective ignition switch. Approximately 125 of these claims are for fatalities.
What risk does GM’s faulty ignition switch present?
When a vehicle is recalled by the manufacturer, it is to correct some defect or malfunction that has either already proven to be dangerous or has the potential for causing injury and loss. The primary risk posed by the ignition switch defect is that the ignition switch could slip out of position, leading to a power shut-off that could affect critical safety systems in the vehicle, including brakes, steering and air bags. The vehicle becomes unmanageable when the power steering and brakes are not functioning, increasing the risk of an accident. Upon impact, the air bags cannot deploy, increasing the potential for serious injury or death even further.
What to Do If You Believe You Are a Victim of a Defective GM Ignition Switch
Those who have not experienced any difficulties should still take their vehicles to the local GM recall center at once so that ignition switch upgrades and repairs can be performed. GM also recommends removing any additional keys or other items from your key ring, as these items could cause the ignition switch to malfunction prior to the safety upgrade.
If you have sustained serious injury or lost a loved one as a result of a defective GM ignition switch, you have limited time in which to file a claim. The deadline to submit a claim to the special compensation fund program is December 31, 2014. Not all vehicle owners who sustained injuries due to a faulty ignition switches or key rotation problems will be eligible to seek compensation according to GM’s compensation protocol.
GM’s Ignition Recall FAQ page provides specific details about the recall, as well as more information about the various forms of compensation that may be available to victims. Should you be ineligible to pursue damages through GM’s current compensation program, you may be able to seek justice and compensation through other legal actions. To find out more about your rights, contact a Richmond personal injury lawyer at Marks & Harrison today.