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Questions of Criminal Liability Follow the GM Ignition Switch Recall

On Behalf of | May 16, 2014 | Auto Accident Injuries, personal injury

Is General Motors criminally liable for failing to disclose problems with ignition switches in its vehicles? According to an article from Reuters, multiple government agencies, including the Florida Attorney Generals’ office, are trying to determine the answer to that question.

According to the company’s website, the GM ignition switch recall involves the following vehicles:

  • 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt
  • 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR
  • 2007-2010 Pontiac G5
  • 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice
  • 2003-2007 Saturn Ion
  • 2007-2010 Saturn Sky

The recall is due to a risk, the company states, that the vehicles’ ignitions may slip out of the “run” position, causing a partial loss of electrical power, disabling the airbags and shutting off the engine. Additionally, some of the vehicles may have issues in which the key can come out of the ignition when the ignition is not in the “off” position, resulting in unintended vehicle motion and the potential for car crashes and injury to occupants and pedestrians. GM stated that the vehicles are safe to drive, provided drivers have no extra keys or weight on their key ring. It’s estimated that approximately 1.4 million cars contain this defect.

The problem has been linked to at least 13 deaths, Reuters reported, and there were 55 class action lawsuits pending in the United States and another five in Canada. The agencies probing the problem and the recall include a group of state attorneys general, including Florida’s, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the U.S. Congress.

In April, the article noted, confidential documents were released that indicated that GM knew about the problem with the ignitions for quite some time and resisted previous opportunities to fix the problem. GM stated in its regulatory filing that it was cooperating with the investigations and faced potential civil and criminal fines. In the past, damages in personal injury lawsuits against automakers have included damages for mental anguish and physical pain, medical expenses, loss of earnings or earning capacity and – in the case of severe misconduct – punitive damages.

If you have been in an auto accident while driving one of the vehicles on the GM recall list that you believe was caused by a problem with the ignition switch, please contact us. There may be compensation available for you.