It seems like every day another company is issuing a recall for a popular product that has been sold widely across the country. Whether it is a piece of furniture, a toy, or even a motor vehicle, it is important for people to pay attention to these recalls to ensure that they aren’t using a product that is no longer safe. Recently, GM issued a widespread auto recall for one of their products due to a faulty ignition switch. With this case, GM was forced to pay out a significant settlement due to the oversight associated with this product. It is important for people to understand what happened in this case so that they can be prepared for future auto recall issues.
What was Happening with the Vehicles that Led to the Auto Recall?
GM is one of the largest motor vehicle companies in the world and this auto recall impacted millions of people all over the world. When people drove an impacted GM vehicle, it would run fine most of the time; however, sometimes, the vehicle would stall in the middle of its use. While sometimes the driver could simply restart the vehicle, this didn’t happen every time. It is easy to see how this could lead to unsafe driving circumstances that could impact the driver, the passengers in the vehicle, and other people on the road. Due to this, an extensive recall was issued.
What Vehicles Were Impacted by the Recall?
There were several different vehicles which were impacted by the recall. These included:
The Chevrolet Cobalt: The Chevrolet Cobalt was one of the GM’s best-selling vehicles. This is a compact car which was popular for people looking for a small vehicle that could get the safely from place to place.
The Saturn Ion: This is another compact car which was sold extensively during the early 2000s. It featured GM’s Delta Platform.
These were the two vehicles impacted most extensively by the defected parts, leading to the massive auto recall. Unfortunately, many people were hurt by the defective products, leading to extensive legal action.
What Was Wrong with the Cars?
The issue with the vehicles rested in the ignition switches. Sometimes, the ignition switches in the vehicles would shut off randomly without any warning to the driver or the passengers. When this happened, the faulty ignition switches would shut off the engine while driving, causing the vehicles to stall without warning. With the engine shut off, the airbags would not deploy or inflate as they were supposed to. This rendered them useless in the event of an accident. Of course, when the car stalled, the driver would lose a significant amount of control over the vehicle. This made accidents more likely to happen; however, the people driving in the car would not have the typical protection of the airbags, thereby placing them at an increased risk of getting hurt in the process.
How Many People Were Affected?
While it is difficult to say for certain how many people were impacted by this recall, GM issued the order in 2014 to inspect any and all affected models, such as the Cobalt and the Saturn. In all, GM was forced to recall over 2.7 million vehicles, one of the largest auto recalls in history. Unfortunately, many people were hurt in the process. Over 100 people were killed in accidents resulting from these defective ignition switches. Close to 300 people were injured in accidents involving these small cars. Clearly, the ignition switches caused serious problems that left many people at risk of severe injury or even death. It is important for all auto companies to understand what led to the problem to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Traumatic Brain Injuries Resulting from a Defective Ignition Switch
One of the many injuries that might result from a failed ignition switch is a traumatic brain injury. When someone is involved in an auto accident, the airbag is supposed to deploy and protect their head from striking the steering wheel or dashboard. When this fails to happen, there is no protection between the driver or passenger’s skull and the front of the car. While their body is restrained by a seatbelt, there is no such protection for their head. This means that the head moves forward at a high velocity, leading to a traumatic
collision between the passenger’s head and the hard surface at the front of the car. This can cause catastrophic neurological damage.
Multiple Bone Fractures Resulting from Car Accidents
In addition to brain injuries, when the car stalls on the road from a failed ignition switch, the driver could also lose control of their motor vehicle. This increases the chance of a serious auto accident developing. Without proper control of the vehicle, the car is free to collide with other vehicles on the road or stationary objects located on the side. When these collisions occur, the car could roll over, compressing the side or roof of the car. If someone strikes another object head-on, the front of the car could also collapse. These types of compressive forces can lead to serious bone fractures which require emergency medical attention. The recovery process from these injuries can be long and arduous as well.
Diagnosing Serious Medical Injuries from Auto Accidents
When someone has been involved in an auto accident such as the ones described above, rapid diagnosis is one of the keys to a successful recovery. Most individuals will be evaluated at the scene by emergency medical personnel. Once they are evaluated and deemed stable for transport to a local medical center, they will be moved so that a doctor can evaluate them. Most physicians will want to order imaging scans such as an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI so that their injuries can be better evaluated. These scans all provide different pieces of information which will be put together in order to make a final diagnosis. Once the injuries have been localized, they can be treated.
Treatment will Vary Based on the Injury
The treatment of traumatic injuries resulting from car accidents will vary depending on the type and severity of the injury. Some bone fractures are closed and non-displaced, meaning that the bone fragments are still in their proper anatomical location. In this case, the bone fractures will heal without requiring and surgical intervention; however, sometimes, the bone fragments have been displaced from their proper spot. This means that the individual will need to be transported to the operating room so that the fractures can be set appropriately. In the operating room, screws and plates may be necessary to hold the fragments in place while they heal. This equipment typically stays in place for the rest of the patient’s life.
Emergent Surgery May be Necessary for Traumatic Brain Injuries
For those who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, emergent surgery could be required. When the brain has been damaged, it has the potential to swell up, just as any other part of the body. When the brain swells inside of a closed space, such as the skull, it could quickly run out of room to expand. This means that the brain could be forced to squeeze out of the back of one of the holes in the skull. This is called a herniation and could lead to serious brain damage or even death. To prevent this, patients will need emergent surgery. A flap of the skull will be removed to allow the brain to expand. Once the swelling has gone back down, the skull will be replaced.
Paying for the Medical Costs
One of the issues that arises from these types of cases is financial stress for the patient and their loved ones. While nobody debates the necessity of this medical care, the costs from these cases can quickly mount. Patients who are transported to the hospital and require extensive imaging will rack up the bills associated with the radiology scans. For those who require a trip to the operating room, they could be staring at significant surgical bills. Many times, these injuries will require extensive rehabilitation and physical therapy. Who is going to pay for all of the costs associated with their medical care? It is important for everyone to understand that there are options available.
Understanding Product Liability Options
When someone has developed these injuries as a result of the negligence of someone else, that party should be held responsible. In the case of faulty ignition switches, the argument could be made that had the ignition switches worked, these injuries could have been avoided. In this case, the car wouldn’t have stalled, preventing serious accidents from occurring. Furthermore, had the airbag deployed properly, many people wouldn’t have developed the serious injuries that they did. Therefore, the argument could be made that GM should be held responsible for the damage associated with their faulty ignition switches. It was this very argument which was made and led to the massive settlements described.
A Massive Settlement
As a result of the massive recall associated with the serious injuries and deaths, many entities filed lawsuits against GM, forcing them to pay for the damages associated with the faulty ignition switches. GM has already faced previous penalties of over $2.5 billion tied to the case. This includes a $900 million payout due to a criminal case settled by the US Justice Department. Now, GM is being forced to pay out an addition $120 million to settle claims made against GM by the various states where these issues occurred. It is important to note that there are still hundreds of cases out against GM that have yet to be decided or finalized in court.
Looking for Recalls
As a consumer, it is important to be on the lookout for the latest auto recalls to ensure that nobody is driving one of these defective products. While some defects could be relatively minor, others could seriously impact the integrity of the vehicle, placing the driver, passengers, and other people on the road at risk. The first step is knowing which products the consumer has purchased and still uses regularly. Then, people can stay up to date on the latest news to ensure that they don’t miss any of the updates regarding recalls for products they own. If a recall is issued, people should heed the warning of the company and make sure to the get their product tested and fixed if necessary.
If a Product is Recalled
When people realize that a product that they owned has been recalled, they often wonder what they should do. When a recall is issued, there should be information available that will show the customer where to take their product so that it can be repaired appropriately. People should always look to see if a local store or dealership is available and take their item or vehicle there as quickly as possible. There, it can be fixed so that people do not get hurt using the product. Always pay attention to recalls and follow the instructions to prevent serious injuries.
An Experienced Attorney Can Provide Assistance
Any person who has been injured in a car accident involving a defective product should consider contacting an experienced attorney. The hospital bills that come with an auto accident can be substantial and it is vital to speak with a professional to review all options. Those with concerns should call GOM Law today, located
in nearby McAllen, TX. A compassionate professional is standing by to offer assistance to individuals and families who need it. An auto accident involving a defective product is challenging, particularly if the person has been injured. This is why a caring lawyer from GOM Law is available to provide assistance to individuals and families who require it.