Allen & Allen is currently investigating claims for people who were injured or killed in accidents involving GM vehicles that were recently recalled due to defective ignition switches. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident involving one of those vehicles, please contact us today for a free consultation at 866-388-1307.
Author: Melinda H. South, Richmond Personal Injury Attorney
Within the last month, General Motors (“GM”) has issued recalls for 4.8 million cars, trucks and SUVs. The first recall was for an ignition switch defect that GM has known about for 10 years. GM’s failure to recall these vehicles promptly has caught the attention of the Justice Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In an effort to protect consumers, GM is also facing congressional investigations into the reasons for the delay.
GM initially blamed consumers, attributing problems with the ignition to added weight on key rings, but eventually accepted responsibility for the problem. The identified defect causes the ignition switch in certain GM model vehicles to move out of the “run” position and into the “accessory/off” position. This causes the electrical power to go out and the vehicle to stall. The ignition defect also disables the vehicle’s air bags. Prior to the announcement of the recall, this defect led to 13 deaths and 31 frontal crashes nationwide.
Due to the age of the vehicles involved in the ignition switch recall, the switch had to be manufactured. Dealers nationwide will begin receiving replacement parts on April 7, 2014 but it is estimated that it will be October before all the affected vehicles can be repaired. GM claims the vehicles are safe to drive as long as nothing else is on the key ring except the key for the vehicle. Others claim that the ignition can slip out of the run position on bumpy roads or by accidental jostling of the key in the ignition and warn against driving the vehicles until they are repaired.
Social media, including Facebook and Twitter, played a huge role in raising society’s awareness about the ignition defect. With rampant reports of serious collisions sweeping the nation, GM was forced to institute one of the largest recalls in its history. To assist people potentially affected by the ignition defect, GM has started a website which consumers can now use to determine if their vehicle requires repair.
While the long term impact of GM’s recall has yet to be realized, and with congressional hearings underway, it is clear that GM’s delay in instituting the recall will be a costly error in judgment. In the interim, consumers should check to see if their vehicle is subject to the recall as soon as possible.
About the Author: Melinda South is a Richmond attorney with the personal injury law firm of Allen & Allen. Melinda works as a legal researcher and assists in the preparation of firm briefs and legal memoranda.
 A detailed description of the scope of this recall is described in a recent New York Times article available online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/business/total-of-gm-vehicle-recalls-in-2014-hits-4-8-million.html.