GM Product Recall and Neglect for Safety

A recent New York Times article articulates General Motors’ (GM) decade-long neglect over vehicle safety and product defects that has now caused numerous car accidents and killed at least 13 people as a result of the switch flaw, which made affected cars prone to shutting off while on the road, disabling the airbags, power steering and anti-lock brakes.   USA Today reports, as General Motors continues to pile on recalls, the scope has become staggering — approximately 17.73 million vehicles in the U.S. requiring actual repairs, with the  likelihood, GM says, of still more recalls by midsummer.

A report, written by former United States Attorney Anton R Valukas, implicated variety of GM employees in how the deadly ignition switch defect has been handled over the past decade.  GM admitted in February that its engineers first knew of the ignition switch problem as early as 2004. However, GM did not recall some 2.6 million affected vehicles until earlier this year. The delayed recall was caused by the misconduct of about 20 employees and “a pattern of incompetence and neglect” throughout the company, the report said. To date, 15 GM employees, including a vice president and senior lawyer responsible for GM product recall cases have been fired. At least five other employees have been disciplined. Because of this report, policies are being implemented that will change how the company handles product safety.

Despite the danger to motorists, the risk of fatalities and the injuries that have occurred over the years, a good-old-fashioned lack of accountability is being blamed for this egregious decade-long major safety issue.  No General Motors employee took responsibility to do anything about the known problem, even though multiple employees, including executives at various corporate levels had the responsibility to fix the problem.

Among the issues is GM’s failure to accept complete responsibility for its gross misconduct, as GM’s estimate of the people who died as a result of its faulty switch is flawed as it only limits its estimate to those passengers sitting in the front seat of the car, and does not accept responsibility for those who died sitting in the back seat of the vehicle.

GM will pay a $35 million fine to safety regulators over the switch debacle and is the subject of a federal criminal probe. GM also faces wrongful death lawsuits from victims’ families.

Product Liability Cases

In cases regarding faulty or defective products that haven’t officially been recalled by the manufacturer, it is imperative to obtain evidence, experts, investigative reports and data to prove that the product was defective or faulty.  One important lesson to be learned from the way GM handled this dangerous and deadly defective product, it is that recalls can take years, if not decades, to be issued. Large corporations often are more concerned with their bottom line than the safety of the consumers they are selling to.  Many people are usually injured or killed by a defect product before an official announcement of a product recall. If you have been injured or you have lost a family member in San Diego or Riverside due to a potentially defective product, contact the experienced team at Martinez & Schill LLP at (619) 512-5995 for a free consultation today.

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