Ignition Switch Flaw in GM Vehicles Kills At Least 12 People; Victims’ Families Still Not Notified

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2014 | Defective Products

According to a report by ABC 17 News, at least 12 people are dead due to a flaw in the ignition switch of certain General Motors vehicles. More than 1.6 million vehicles are affected by the flaw. Even worse, the families of the victims are still in the dark because the identities of the 12 victims have not yet been revealed. The CEO of GM conceded that the families of the victims were not yet aware of the deaths when she was part of a media roundtable in Detroit on Tuesday.

This case is a vivid reminder of the stakes when manufacturers of consumer goods, including cars, allow defective products onto the marketplace.

The Scope of the Flaw

In a statistics report released by GM, it is revealed that the ignition switch flaw resulted in approximately 31 frontal accidents in addition to at least 12 deaths. GM previously admitted that they were aware of particular problems with the ignition switch in small cars around 2004, yet the 1.6 million cars with the faulty switch were not recalled until last month.

The company was hesitant to commit to releasing the entire list of frontal and fatal accidents related to the switch failure. The CEO relayed that they would release the fatality information “If we feel a need to do that and we feel it’s appropriate,” although she went on to say, “But at this time we have not.” Outside investigators are currently conducting a thorough probe of the situation, yet she would not say if the information would be released upon the probe’s completion.

Legal Liability?

Another topic that the company is careful to broach is the issue of legal liability for the accidents that occurred before GM’s 2009 bankruptcy. Because the bankruptcy proceedings effectively insulate the current company from civil legal action, GM would have to waive its liability “shield” in order to accept responsibility.

A public interest group, The Center for Auto Safety, is urging GM to waive its liability shield. Clarence Ditlow, the executive director, emphasizes that more than half of the families probably have no idea that they can trace the reason behind the deaths of their loved one back to a faulty ignition switch. Even with the news covering the recall efforts, many families will not be able to sufficiently draw a connection between the events.

Ditlow stated, “Our experience with crashes is that the families are in a state of shock and that a lot of people don’t go further than to think it’s a tragedy.” Ditlow believes that if GM admits to liability, it would help ease the minds of the families of the victims by relieving some of the stress of not knowing what happened to their loved ones.

Those who work with family affected by earlier crashes related to the ignition switches also believe that many families are not aware. At least one consumer rights advocate has seen the list but cannot disclose any information due to confidentiality agreements. He stressed that GM is guarding the list “extremely carefully” and that he doesn’t “believe there’s any legal obligation to release the names,” only an ethical one.

Were you injured by a faulty product?

If you were injured as a result of a faulty manufactured product, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact an experienced Texas dangerous products attorney today. We work with families in New Braunfels and many South Central Texas communities.