On February 7, 2014, automaker General Motors notified the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority about a defect in an ignition switch in the 2007 Pontiac G5 and 619,122 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt vehicles. According to a report filed with the NHTSA by General Motors, the safety-related defect may cause an affected vehicle's ignition switch to move unintentionally from the "run" position to the "off" or "accessory" position. General Motors indicated that the risk of the ignition switch moving to another position could be increased if the vehicle goes off road, has another type of impact or if the key ring has more weight on it than just the vehicle's keys and key fob.
On February 25, 2014, GM notified the NHTSA that more vehicles needed to be included in the same recall. The affected 748,024 vehicles are the 2007 Saturn Sky, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion and 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice and Chevrolet HHR.
On March 28, 2014, GM notified the NHTSA that more vehicles needed to be included in the recall because of the same safety-related defect in ignition switches that might have been installed during repairs. The vehicles that could be affected by repairs made with a defective ignition switch include the 2008-2010 model year of Pontiac G5, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky, Chevrolet Cobalt and 2008-2011 Chevrolet HHR. The total number of vehicles added to the recall was 823,788. The total number of affected vehicles in the United States is 2,190,934.
The defective GM ignition switch can cause the vehicle to stall, disabling the anti-lock brakes, air bags and power steering. Serious injuries or death could result.
Thirteen deaths have been linked to the defective GM ignition switch. In addition, some consumers have reported injuries ranging from minor to serious, suffered while in an accident in a GM vehicle affected by the recall.
According to GM, consumers who drive a vehicle affected by the recall should do the following: "Until the ignition recall repairs have been performed, it is very important that you remove all items from your key ring, leaving only the vehicle key. The key fob (if applicable) should also be removed from your key ring. Before exiting the vehicle, it's also very important for you to make sure the vehicle is in "Park" or in the case of a manual transmission, to put the transmission into reverse gear and set the parking brake." In addition, GM says to communicate with a local GM dealer as replacement ignition switches become available.
The NHTSA has also released a statement advising those who drive one of the affected vehicles to remove everything off the key ring except the vehicle key.
According to a press release issued by the NHTSA on May 16, 2014, a $35 million civil penalty was issued against GM for failing to report the safety-related ignition switch defect in a timely manner. In addition, there are numerous oversight requirements. This is the largest civil penalty ever paid as a result of an investigation by the NHTSA as a result of a recall.
More than 80 lawsuits have been filed across the country against GM about the defective ignition switch, with most seeking class-action status. The lawsuits seek compensation from GM for the lost value of the affected vehicle, as well as other economic damages from GM's failure to address the defective ignition switch problem. On June 9, 2014, a panel of seven federal judges consolidated the pretrial phase into one proceeding in New York. None of the cases that have been filed against GM over wrongful death and personal injury is affected by the federal judges' ruling on June 9, 2014. Currently, those cases are expected to move forward.
If you have been affected by GM's defective ignition switch, whether you have experienced economic losses, personal injury or the death of a loved one, an attorney can provide advice and guidance on how to seek compensation for losses and related damages.
Far too many people have suffered either an economic loss, non-economic loss, or both, because of the defective ignition switch. General Motors admitted to the NHTSA that they knew about the defective ignition switch for a decade. While the NHTSA has fined GM for their delay in issuing the recall, those who have suffered losses or damages have a right to seek compensation. An attorney can provide more information about how to pursue such compensation through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in civil court. While such compensation will not undo the damages and losses from the defective part, it will help hold GM accountable.
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