imagine driving down the freeway, bumping your steering column, and having your car shut down. That’s what GM drivers have been facing for years. But now, GM is going to have to pay for it.
The faulty ignition switches in the 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007 Pontiac G5, 2006-7 Chevrolet HHR and Pontiac Solstice and the 2007 Saturn Sky have been linked to 100 deaths
– more than anyone expected. A year ago, that number was closer to 13
After being aware of the problem for nearly a decade, GM finally issued a recall in February 2014. But after 9 months, almost half of the vehicles had yet to be repaired
. Auto owners who took their lemons in were put on wait-lists and turned away by dealers who said they didn’t have the replacement piece in stock.
Now a fund has been established
to decide which claims can be brought against the automaker. Lawyer Ken Feinberg reviews claims of death or injury related to faulty GM ignition switches. All together 4,342 claims were submitted by the January 31, 2015 deadline, including 474 where someone died. But many of these have been turned away because the fund only deals with the first two GM recalls. Accidents involving a later-recalled GM vehicle are ineligible.
If an accident is eligible that claim receives an offer of settlement from the fund. So far, 193 offers have been made, including claims for 100 deaths and 184 injuries.
One of those deaths is a Liblang Law Firm client. The family had been denied funeral expense benefits by their no-fault insurance policy because the accident was blamed on an aneurysm suffered by the driver. But Dani K. Liblang wouldn’t quit. An investigation into the black box of the vehicle showed that the ignition cut out, causing the crash and the aneurysm, and leading to the client’s death.
Auto Attorney Robert Hilliard, from Texas, says GM played the media
to keep expectations low:
“This company knew for years that its ignition switch defect had killed and injured hundreds. It was continuing its dishonesty and supplementing that with disingenuousness when it told the world there were only 13 deaths.”
It appears lawmakers agree with him. Last year, GM paid a $35 million fine to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and agreed to three years of intense monitoring. The US Justice Department, 50 states Attorneys General, and the Securities and Exchange Commission are also investigating GM’s delayed recall. Employees of the automaker have been called to testify before Congress, and 15 GM employees lost their job over the issue last year alone.
But none of that brings back the hundred victims of fatal auto accidents resulting from GM’s faulty ignition switches. The fines won’t go to those struggling to recover from their accidents. Until GM is held accountable in civil court, through the Fund and individual and class action lawsuits, the people who suffered most from GM’s decision to hide the problem will be left uncompensated.
Dani K. Liblang is a Lemon Law Attorney for The Liblang Law Firm, PC. She represents the victims of auto accidents against manufacturers who produce defective vehicles and helps them get the recovery they need. If you or someone you know has been in an auto accident, contact The Liblang Law Firm, PC, today for a free consultation.