Faulty Ignition Switches Linked to More than 120 Deaths
General Motors has been dealing with faulty ignition switches on its vehicles since 2001. Several Chevrolet vehicles including the Cobalt, the Impala, and the Malibu featured ignition switches that were flawed and could cause a car to shut off while in gear. These faulty switches have been linked to more than 120 deaths and several hundred injuries.
Many familiar with the situation believe General Motors is responsible for the accidents that occurred because of the ignition switch malfunctions because it knew there was a problem and failed to warn the public or correct the problem soon enough.
When the switches malfunction and vehicles shut off while in gear, it causes a loss of power steering and braking ability. It also disables airbags from inflating. There were also instances in which manual and automatic transmission vehicle’s keys were removed when the switch was not in the “off” position, which led to vehicles rolling out of control.
What Caused the GM Ignition Switches to Malfunction?
The faulty switches featured an insufficient detent plunger – the part of the ignition switch in place to provide resistance and prevent accidental rotation.
The insufficiency allowed key rotation that would turn the engine off unexpectedly.
In addition to the Chevrolet vehicle models listed above, several other manufacturers have dealt with faulty ignition switch problems, including:
Drivers of vehicles affected by the faulty ignition switches have been injured. In some cases the accidents caused by the switches proved fatal. When a driver is operating a vehicle that suddenly turns off, it can cause a collision with another vehicle or object or veer off the road.
GM Issues Recall of Faulty Ignition Switches after Years of Problems
In February 2014, GM initiated a recall related to its faulty ignition switches. Approximately 800,000 vehicles were included in the recall and later, additional models were added until the recall eventually affected more than 30 million vehicles.
Later that year, the National Highway Transportation Safety Association fined GM for $35 million – the current maximum fine the agency is able to impose. The company acknowledged it had been aware of the problem with the ignition switches for at least 10 years, but failed to issue a recall until earlier that year.
The NHTSA has also issued public warnings to drivers of GM vehicles to replace faulty ignition switches in vehicles and never insert a key that has a key ring or anything else connected to it into the switch.
Additionally, the US Department of Justice has also launched an investigation into GM’s actions. Thus far, GM has forfeited $900 million to the DOJ as part of a deal to accept responsibility for wrongdoing.
Lawsuits Filed against the Makers of Vehicles with Faulty Ignition Switches
Numerous lawsuits have also been filed against the company on behalf of those affected by the faulty ignition switches.
Drivers injured in accidents caused by the malfunctioning ignition switches, as well as surviving loved one of those lost in fatal accidents are seeking compensation from GM. The company has already lost several legal arguments about its accountability and in April 2017, the US Supreme Court denied GM’s request for it to review the case.
Multidistrict litigation is underway and includes claims that GM:
- Falsely promoted and marketed its vehicles as safe, reliable, and high-quality
- Inaccurately claimed that it had prioritized safety and quality of its vehicles
- High the physical defects of its ignition switches from consumers and the government
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a vehicle crash that you think might be related to a faulty ignition switch, contact us to learn about your rights and to find out if compensation is available.