GM Not Forthcoming About Ignition Switch Problems
General Motors (GM) continues to face Congressional hearings and lawsuits related to their knowledge of faulty ignition switches that have been connected to at least 13 deaths over the past 10 years. Recent documents obtained by The New York Times shows that the company may not have been as forthcoming as the automaker had been with regulators regarding the problem. Ignition Problem According to death inquiry documents obtained by The New York Times, GM claimed they could not determine the cause of an accident that killed Gene Erickson, a passenger in a car driven by Candace Anderson, in 2004. Ms. Anderson survived the accident in which her Saturn Ion suddenly drove into a tree. The airbags did not deploy in the accident. Ms. Anderson plead guilty to criminally negligent homicide as she had a trace of Xanax in her system, although she now believes she was not to blame. The documents received show that GM told federal authorities they could not determine what happened in the accident, but a month earlier an internal GM evaluation found that the Ion had probably lost power, which disabled the airbags in Mr. Erickson’s accident. No lawsuit was filed against GM in the crash. Evading Questions A review of the documents shows that GM repeatedly avoided answering directly what caused four accidents over the past decade. Only four death inquiry reports were released to the New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, one of which was Mr. Erickson’s. In another fatal crash, GM claimed that attorney-client privilege prevented them from answering as the family had filed a lawsuit against the automaker, while in other cases, the automaker simply stated that they opted not to respond. These responses were despite the fact that GM had been aware of the power loss problem for many years. Senate Hearings GM CEO Mary T. Barra faced harsh questions before a Senate hearing panel in April, and the head of the automaker’s legal department, Michael P. Millikin will face the same panel in a few weeks. It is expected that GM’s executives will be forced to answer why they did not acknowledge the deadly ignition problem and take steps to correct it when it was first discovered many years ago. Congress passed a law in 2000 requiring automakers to report any injuries or deaths that may have been caused by defects. Reports are that both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and GM fell short in protecting the public, and many of the families of those killed are seeking information on potential lawsuits related to the ignition switch problem. When a faulty vehicle component is suspected as the cause or contributing factor in a car accident that causes injury or death, a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit 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 faulty car components.