Lawsuit Filed in 2006 Death of Two Teenage Girls
The families of two teenage girls who died in a crash in 2006 have filed suit against General Motors, despite the automakers legal immunity from liability after being restructured in 2009. The personal injury lawsuit claims that GM failed to disclose information related to faulty ignition switches in their Cobalt models that may have been linked to as many as 12 deaths.
On Oct. 24, 2006, Natasha Weigel, 18, and Amy Rademaker, 15, were passengers in a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, driven by Megan Ungar-Kerns. The car veered off the road and hit a grove of trees. Both Weigel and Rademaker were killed and Ungar-Kerns suffered severe head injuries. She has no recollection of the accident or events leading up to the crash. None of the girls were wearing safety restraints at the time of the accident.
In February 2013, GM issued a recall on over 778,000 Chevrolet Cobalt vehicles. In addition to the Cobalt, recalls were issued for the 2007 Pontiac G5, 2003 to 2007 Saturn Ion, 2005 to 2006 Pontiac Pursuit, 2007 Opel GT, as well as the Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, all for model years 2006 to 2007. The recall states that a faulty ignition switch could inadvertently be turned off when driving on uneven roads or due to a heavy keychain. When the switch is turned off, power steering and power brakes no longer function. In addition, airbags do not deploy, leading to the potential for further injury. Because the recall encompasses older models, the company says it is difficult to locate current owners as the cars may have changed hands several times.
In 2009, GM was reorganized under a government-supported bankruptcy, and, as part of that legal proceeding, was given legal immunity from liability for deaths or injuries that occurred prior to the reorganization. Basically, the company says that any claims prior to 2009 are part of the "old" GM and the "new" GM is not liable. However, new information has emerged that GM was aware of the ignition switch problem as far back as 2001, but did nothing to correct the problem or notify consumers. The company is facing federal investigations regarding their handling of the defect. The lawsuit filed on behalf of Weigel and Rademaker is the first to test GM's claims of legal immunity for incidents that occurred prior to 2009.
When an automotive defect is suspected as the cause or contributing factor in a car accident that causes injury or death, a personal injury claim may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an auto accident where injuries may have been caused or worsened by an automotive defect.