When a manufacturer knows about a safety-related defect in a vehicle and fails to report it, they can face millions in fines. General Motors (GM) could be fined as much as $35 million once the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) probes further into a recent recall involving faulty ignition switches. This defect has been linked to 13 fatalities.
But it was recently uncovered that NHTSA failed to perform its own investigation after receiving 267 complaints from consumers between February 2003 and March 2014. During this time period, NHTSA received reports of some GM vehicles unexpectedly turning off, even while being driven. Yet NHTSA indicates there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue further investigation.
This may leave some to wonder if the federal government can be held liable when it has demonstrated negligence. A couple of years ago, Toyota was the subject of a massive recall involving a defect that caused certain Toyota cars to accelerate suddenly. It was believed that as many as 89 deaths were linked to the problem, which has led to numerous lawsuits.
But in 2012, an auto safety firm decided to file a suit against NHTSA in order to obtain records of its investigation into the issue. The firm wanted to learn if the federal government dismissed the problems.
Cases of this nature can be very complicated. Those who have been seriously injured or families who have lost a loved one because of a defect in a motor vehicle may not fully understand their rights, including who can be liable.
Whether you or someone you love has been the victim of a safety-related defect involving one of the GM models or any other vehicle that was faulty, it’s best to seek legal counsel. An attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates can establish if there is a case, potential parties that could be named in the lawsuit and damages that may be available. Just fill out our contact form.