GM recalled its 2005-2007 Chevy Cobalts
for faulty ignition switches, which are alleged to have caused a
number of deaths and traumatic injuries. GM expects to begin
replacing the ignitions in April 2014 and will not charge consumers
for the repairs. If you have received a recall notice, you need to
make an appointment with your dealer to have the part replaced.
Dangerous Is This Defect?
When the ignition switch malfunctions,
the vehicle’s electrical system loses power and the engine shuts
off. Your power steering and brakes cease to work, and your airbags
cannot deploy. In other words, you are far more likely to crash and
will not have the protection of your airbags when you do.
Likely Is This to Happen?
All it takes is a jarring of the
system. A heavy chain of keys, a pot-hole, or a bump in the road can
do it—even a jostling of the keys with the driver’s knee. GM has
sternly cautioned owners to remove everything but the ignition keys
from their key rings until the parts can be replaced. In addition,
the company is said to have instructed dealers to lend replacement
vehicles to owners who are afraid to drive their Cobalts before the
repairs have been completed.
Can You Do If You’ve Been Injured Due to a Defective Vehicle?
If you are injured in an accident and
your injuries are found to have resulted from the defective design or
manufacture of your vehicle, you may be entitled to compensatory
damages (i.e., damages that compensate you for your losses)
for things such as your medical expenses, loss of earnings and
ability to earn, physical pain and suffering, and even mental
In some cases, punitive (i.e.,
punishing) damages may also be awarded. These additional
damages may be warranted if the manufacturer was aware of a defect
and its danger to the public but failed to take adequate steps to
correct it. As stated below, GM has been alleged to have engaged in
exactly this sort of egregious conduct.
Lawsuits have already been filed
against GM for injuries suffered as a result of the Cobalt
Type of Actions are Brought to Recover Damages for Injuries Caused by
the Chevy Cobalt Ignition-switch Defect?
When a person has been injured as a
result of a product defect, a product-liability action is generally
instituted against several parties to recover damages suffered by the
plaintiff as a result of his or her injuries. When the product defect
in question is found in a motor vehicle, such actions are generally
brought against, among others, the manufacturer of the vehicle as a
whole, the manufacturer of the component part that is alleged to be
defective, the designer of the vehicle as a whole, the designer of a
component part that is alleged to be defective, the assembler of the
vehicle, the suppliers of vehicle parts, and, in some states, the
sellers, or retailers, of the vehicle.
These actions are usually brought as
strict liability actions, which do not require the plaintiff to
demonstrate or prove that any of the defendants were negligent in
causing the vehicle to be designed or made in a defective condition.
Defects in strict liability actions may exist in a vehicle’s
design, manufacture, or as a result of a failure to warn of dangers
inherent in the vehicle’s use.
GM’s Bankruptcy Prevent You from Being Compensated for Your
GM has filed bankruptcy under Chapter
11 of the federal Bankruptcy Code (11 U.S. Code Chapter 11), which
allows a company that cannot meet its debts to reorganize its
business. As a result of GM’s reorganization, it became, in legal
effect, a different corporation than the one that existed prior to
its bankruptcy. As of June 10, 2009, the old GM ceased to exist and a
new GM was born. Under the terms of the bankruptcy order, the new GM
can still be held liable for injuries caused by defective vehicles
designed and manufactured by the old GM, as long as the incident that
results in such injuries occurred after GM’s bankruptcy.
Some plaintiffs have also brought suits
against GM for injuries that occurred before GM’s bankruptcy. Under
Title 49 of the U.S. Code, NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic and
Safety Administration, issues Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards
which GM must comply with. According to NHTSA, GM violated these
standards, because it was aware of the defect and the injuries it
caused, yet failed to take steps to repair the affected vehicles.
Because GM also failed to inform the bankruptcy court of the
defect and the liabilities that could occur as a result, lawyers
across the country are filing suits alleging that the current GM is
liable for injuries that occurred before June 10, 2009.
Expert Assistance from an Experienced Personal-injury Attorney
writer, Jeff Killino, is the managing partner of The
Killino Firm, P.C. and a respected litigation attorney
with extensive experience with all types of accident and other
personal-injury cases, including those arising out of injuries caused
by defective vehicles or other products. Attorney Killino’s
knowledge and expertise have awarded him national recognition through
appearances on major television networks, including CNN, ABC FOX, and
the Discovery Channel, to speak about his involvement in national
cases, including one that resulted in the recall of 450,000 tires
manufactured in China.