Defective automotive products have been linked to countless injuries and deaths over the years. One of the most highly-publicized cases involves General Motors producing vehicles with a defective ignition switch.
This particular recall has garnered far more attention than others due to investigations into the matter, as reported by the New York Times, which have uncovered that GM was aware of the safety defect and risks to drivers for more than a decade.
Unfortunately, many people may have suffered serious injuries or lost their lives before GM issued a massive recall and took action to protect the public from injury or death.
Since the establishment of a GM victims’ compensation fund, more than 1,130 claims have been filed, including 178 death claims. At least 79 claims involve claimants who claim to have suffered injuries such as quadriplegia, permanent brain damage, extensive burns or amputation.
According to Reuters, the number of deaths that have been conclusively linked to GM’s faulty ignition switch now stands at 27. Another 25 injury claims have also been approved to receive compensation from the GM victims’ compensation fund.
As the deadline for filing for compensation through the fund is December 31, 2014, there is no question that these numbers will continue to rise.
What is the Defective GM Ignition Switch and Its Risks?
The defect in GM’s ignition switch can cause it to unexpectedly slide out of the “run” position and over to the “off” position, which can in turn lead to a partial loss of electrical power.
This can occur when driving over particularly rough roads or simply due to any extra weight you may have on your key ring. In some vehicles, the faulty ignition switch allows the key to be removed even when the ignition is not off.
The primary risks this defective ignition switch may pose are:
- The car losing complete power and coming to an unexpected stop
- The car temporarily stalling out
- Air bags failing to deploy in an accident
- The vehicle beginning to roll without the key in the ignition.
GM has recalled an estimated 2.6 million vehicles it believes may be affected by a faulty or defective ignition switch. If your GM vehicle is included in the recall, it is important that you get your vehicle into your local dealership so that GM can repair the problem free of charge.
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries as a result of the defective ignition switch, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries and losses.
How Are GM Defective Ignition Switch Claims Being Handled?
General Motors has set aside $400 million in a special fund to be used solely in the compensation of ignition switch accident victims and their families.
This fund is being managed by Kenneth Feinberg. Bloomberg reports that Feinberg has been tasked with evaluating each individual claim so as to determine its validity and merit.
In some cases, it may not be advisable for an eligible claimant to opt to file a claim or to accept a cash settlement from the GM victims’ compensation fund. For instance, some may find it more beneficial to file a separate lawsuit seeking compensation that is more commensurate with the pain and suffering they have been forced to endure.
Those who believe they have a valid claim based on injuries or loss of life caused by GM’s defective ignition switch should consult with an attorney before the December 31, 2014, deadline approaches. An attorney can review one’s case and provide advice about available legal options.