Imagine you are driving your brand new car down the street to your home in Kentucky. Without warning, the ignition switch flips to off, the result of a defective car switch. With the ignition switch turned off, critical systems, including your power steering and brakes, are also turned off and it can be impossible to maintain control of the vehicle. This is what happened to many people who purchased General Motors vehicles that had defective ignition switches. These defective auto parts have resulted in several accidents and at least 13 deaths.
Sometimes companies that manufacture complex products such as automobiles install defective products that put the consumers at risk of serious injury. In many cases, the company will issue a recall and notify consumers of the defective product. However, there are also companies who try to save money and time by trying to cover up the defect and avoid taking responsibility for fixing a faulty item.
Recently, General Motors has faced product liability charges stating that it mishandled the recall on over 2 million cars over a deadly problem with the ignition switch. Since the recall, General Motors has suspended with pay two engineers who allegedly overlooked the substandard switch. The CEO of General Motors called this an “interim step” in figuring out who may be responsible for the decision to try and conceal the defect, rather than announce an immediate recall.
The issue with these malfunctioning cars, mainly Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions, stems from the ignition switch that can slip from the “on” position to “off” on its own. When this occurs, the engine can shut off, the air bags are disabled, and the power steering and braking systems turn off. When this happens, drivers can lose control over their car and swerve off the road or into oncoming traffic, increasing the chances of a crash. And without the protection of the air bags, these crashes can be devastating.
If you believe you might have experienced a situation where a product did not work properly and injured you, or put you at risk of injury, then you might consider consulting an attorney experienced in the field of product liability. A lawyer can help you further understand and protect your rights as a consumer.
Source: The Lexington Herald-Leader, “GM puts 2 engineers on paid leave in recall case,” Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher, April 10, 2014