General Motors (GM) recently recalled 1.6 million older-model compact cars for ignition issues that led to at least 13 car-crash fatalities. Now, according to a report by the Associated Press, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating how GM handled the recall. In a 27-page order sent directly to GM, NHTSA demanded communications and data relating to when the company knew about the defective ignitions and why they failed to issue the recall sooner.
NHTSA is specifically looking for whether GM withheld evidence and delayed its response. This is a serious issue because at least 13 traffic fatalities have been reported as a result of the defective ignitions. Furthermore, failing to inform NHTSA of safety defects within five days of discovery can result in serious fines. If GM knew of the faulty ignitions and failed to tell the NHTSA, they could face fines of up to $35 million.
Vehicles affected by the February 13, 2014 recall include Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s from model years 2005-2007. Vehicles added to the recall two weeks later include Saturn Ion compacts from 2003-2007, Chevrolet HHR SUVs, Pontiac Solstice, and Saturn Sky sports cars from 2006-2007. If you own any of these vehicles and have not been in an accident, you should have your vehicle inspected and repaired right away.
The recalled vehicles have ignition switches that can move if the driver has a heavy key ring or if the vehicle travels on rough roads. When an ignition moves from the run position, it can suddenly shut down the engine and cut off the electrical power. When a vehicle doesn’t have power, the power brakes, power steering, and airbag system will not work. In each fatal accident involving these defective vehicles, the airbags did not inflate. Investigators are trying to determine if the ignition switches caused all of the crashes or if people died because the airbags did not inflate.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or if you have lost a loved one because of these or other vehicle defects, it would be in your best interest to contact an experienced Oklahoma product liability lawyer who will better explain your legal rights and options. Automakers responsible for making and selling defective vehicles can be held accountable for injuries, damages, and losses that result.