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General Motors Recall Surpasses 25 Million! Don’t Wait if you Need an Attorney.

GM Announced 6 New Safety Recalls – 8 Million More Vehicles

On Monday June 30, GM announced six new safety recalls covering more than 8 million vehicles.  This year’s recalls from GM began with the Chevrolet Cobalt in February.  In 2014 so far, GM has recalled a total of 25.68 million vehicles.  This sets a record for GM’s total recalls and equals more than two years of the company’s total output.  Thus far, these recalls have been connected to 13 deaths. The most recent of the vehicles recalled have been linked to eight injuries and three fatalities.

Increasing inquiry from the federal government prompts the additional recalls.  The safety issue at stake in all the models included revolves around the ignition switch.  This originally showed to be a problem in small cars but has now begun to show in mid-size and full-size GM vehicles.  An “unintended key rotation” causes the ignition switch to change, in the worst circumstances resulting in the engine shutting off while the car is in motion.  This is further complicated by the loss of power-steering, braking systems and air-bag response in collisions.

To address the safety issues, GM has been replacing ignition switches in affected vehicles.  The company now openly warns consumers that recalled vehicles may turn off while driving if the ignition switch is jarred and if they feel unsafe driving them, GM will provide a rental car. Recalls outside the reach of the ignition switch defect cover such issues as glitches in electric shorts in doors and windows, fuse issues which could potentially cause electrical fires, engine blocks that can be vulnerable to damage in cold weather and joint fasteners that have been improperly tightened.

General Motors Knew of the Faulty Equipment Long Before Recall

GM is under harsh scrutiny as it has been revealed that many others caught onto ignition switch issues before the company went public about the defects.  The engineer who designed the part in question referred to it as “the switch from hell,” commenting on the extreme failure of the prototype.  Issues with the switch were reportedly also seen by a trooper on the Wisconsin Safety Patrol and Indiana University’s Transportation Research Center.

Within the company, a number of investigations took place, including one in which the director of product investigations was able to turn the car off with her knee alone.  No urgent action resulted from these investigations and the company determined that fixing the problem would be too expensive.

GM cautiously handles victim’s cases and future recall related matters.  The company declines to say that the barrage of vehicle recalls has ended but is hopeful that they will decrease.  CEO Mary Barra has stated that the company has undertaken what she calls “the most comprehensive safety review in the history of [GM].”  As of right now, 15 employees have been dismissed in connection to the recall.  GM has appointed Kenneth Feinberg, a dispute resolution expert, to head the program which will compensate victims involved in safety recall related crashes.

GM offers three pieces of advice to the recalled vehicle operators:

    • Remove everything from the key ring except the key
    • When parking the car, be sure to check that it is in park and enable the parking break
    • Communicate with local GM dealers about ordering and installing replacement parts

Shavertown Area Man Involved in Accident (Luzerne County):

A Shavertown area man was involved in a car accident in a 2006 Pontiac Solstice in Luzerne in December 2011, a vehicle included in the GM recalls.  Now 20-year old Damon Szatkowski, and his mother, Karen Szatkowski, have filed suit against General Motors on the grounds that they believe the ignition switch defect caused the accident which left Damon with traumatic brain injuries.

The Pontiac he was driving at the time of the accident became “uncontrollable,” swerving into a retaining wall, and the airbags failed to deploy, resulting in serious injury.  A civil action complaint filed in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas states, “the ignition switch had the ability to change from the ‘run’ position to the ‘accessory’ position thereby causing the engine to lose power with a resultant loss of power to the steering, brakes, air bags, and other essential safety functions of the car.”

The Szatkowskis, represented by Matthew A. Casey of Ross Feller LLP, is seeking damages upwards of $50,000 as they file over nine counts against GM in a Luzerne County lawsuit. Ross and his clients have alleged that GM was negligently reckless in not informing their millions of consumers, Szatkowski among them, of the defects of the ignition switch.  General Motors LLC of Harrisburg, PA, and Rick Weaver, Buick, Pontiac, GMC Inc., Erie are named as defendants in this case.

Family and friends of Damon encourage and cheer him on as he recovers and lives with his injuries daily.  Originally, injuries were so serious that doctors did not believe he would survive.  Proving triumphant over the troubles related to the collision, Damon proudly accepted his diploma on stage at Dallas High School last year.  Attorney Ross states “Damon’s heroic struggle, which he lives every day as a result of GM’s reckless conduct, is an object lesson for GM about the kind of values, like commitment, diligence, and fortitude, that should guide the company.” Fellerman and Ciarimboli commend the work of Attorney Ross and wishes for a positive outcome in the Szatkowski’s case against GM.

What Actions Should You Take if Affected?

As the recall includes so many models, many consumers have been affected.  Any consumers who have been involved in an accident related to the safety recalls by GM should contact a lawyer immediately.  General Motors is obligated to inform owners of the vehicles that defects are present.  Under federal law, the manufacturer of a recalled vehicle has an obligation to repair the defect or replace the automobile or specific equipment in question. Owners of recalled vehicles, especially those injured as a result of a defect, are entitled to certain remedies.  A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help consumers to pursue these remedies.

Even if your car has a defect that is not related to a recall, you may have a product liability claim which can be handled by a personal injury lawyer.  The details of the mechanical issues of automobiles can be complex and often need an expert opinion along with legal advice when it comes to product defects.

If planning to contact a lawyer about your recalled vehicle or an accident you believe is related to a recall, be knowledgeable about all facets of your car.

Gathering the following information will be crucial to making a claim or enrolling in GM’s program to compensate victims:

    • Car’s make, model, and year,
    • Date of purchase
    • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
    • Any police reports related to the accident
    • Photos
    • Insurance data
    • Medical records

Attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli Law Firm deal with cases arising from automobile accidents very frequently.  This is an area in which Fellerman & Ciarimboli is extensively experienced and knowledgeable.  If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident related to vehicle safety recall, call us today at (570-714-HURT, fill the form on our contact page, or live chat with us during business hours using the box at the bottom right corner of your browser.

Statistics:

    • Vehicles recalled in most recent release: roughly 8 million
    • Total models recalled: 54 (all but three that the company manufactures)
    • Total units recalled: 25.68 million
    • Total deaths allegedly related to recalls: 13
    • Brands affected:  Chevrolet, Pontiac, Saturn, Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Buick, GMC, Saab, Suzuki
    • Expected compensation to victims’ families: $1 million each
    • Number of employees dismissed from GM: 15
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With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.

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