General Motors (GM) has been accused of delaying a recall on defective Pontiac G5 and Chevrolet Cobalt vehicles, which have been involved in at least six deaths over the past few years. The allegations are that GM knew about the defect since 2004, yet waited a decade to initiate a recall.
It was in 2004 when engineers performing test drives experienced problems with the engine unexpectedly shutting off. In 2005, a conclusion was reached as to the cause of the problem. It was determined that a defective ignition switch could be either shaken out of the “on” position or accidently bumped and turned off.
When this happens, the power steering is lost, in addition to braking assistance, and if the car is struck during this interim, the airbags will not deploy. It wasn’t until February 2014 that GM recalled about 778,000 of these vehicles.
The automaker acknowledges the defect was to blame for six fatalities. GM is now the subject of at least one lawsuit involving a woman killed in 2010. She was driving a 2005 Cobalt at the time of the accident.
Car Manufacturers and Responsibility to Report Safety-Related Defects
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) oversees vehicle safety standards. It mandates that once an automaker is aware of a safety-related defect — which means there’s an unreasonable risk of an accident causing injury or death — the problem must be reported to NHTSA within five days.
When there is a failure to do this, the manufacturer could end up paying millions in fines. In recent years, both Toyota and Ford have been penalized substantially for failing to report safety-related defects. Most recently, Toyota recalled 1.9 million Prius vehicles for defective software.
There is also the potential for the automaker to be sued by victims or their families. If you or someone you love believes a defective vehicle or equipment is the cause of someone’s injuries or death, don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel with Gacovino, Lake & Associates.
It may be difficult to determine if a product defect was the cause of your loved one’s car accident, but if you feel the incident was out of the ordinary in any way, you may need to consult knowledgeable car accident and product defect attorneys: (800) 550-0000.