It started with an exposé written in the late 1950s and early ’60s about the car industry and its willingness to produce dangerous vehicles. At the time, in a book called Unsafe at Any Speed, Ralph Nader led an effort to alert consumers and lawmakers about dangerous car and truck models being sold in U.S. markets. It was through this book and it’s focus on a car called the Corvair, that U.S. consumers first learned that car manufacturers were willfully producing and selling defective cars and trucks. That book, and the outcry that followed, led to the creation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Another infamously defective car was the Ford Pinto. It tended to burst into flames in rear-end collisions and was part of another gigantic auto maker scandal. In that case, it was found that Ford had circulated a memo internally which callously calculated the cost of reinforcing the rear end ($121 million) versus the potential payout to victims ($50 million). They opted not to fix the problem until it was too late for many motorists.
Fast forward from the story of the Corvair of the late 1950s/early ’60s and the Ford Pinto to GM products today.
GM has just admitted that it ignored evidence for over a decade showing that faulty ignition systems on its line of compact cars, built mostly from 2003-2009, caused those vehicles to stall without warning – resulting in a large number of car crashes and the deaths of as many as 78 people.
Consumer complaints during these years detail frequent stalls, often at high speeds, leaving frightened drivers with no engine power, no power steering, no brakes and no air bags.
To make matters worse for car owners, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ignored hundreds of consumer complaints about these vehicles, repeating a mistake made in the late 1990s. During that time, the NHTSA ignored a safety problem with Ford Explorers outfitted with Firestone tires that had a tendency to roll-over, killing 271 people.
The U.S. Justice Department is now starting its own criminal probe against GM. It is reported that the Justice Department could be looking into possible liability under the Transportation Recall, Accountability, Enhancement, and Documentation Act, or TREAD Act. That law was passed by Congress after the Ford Explorer and Firestone investigation.
The good news, if there is any in this case…
Since revelations of this ignition defect surfaced, GM has recalled 780,000 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G3s built from 2005-2009, as well as 842,000 Saturn Ions, Chevrolet HHRs, Pontiac Solstices, and Saturn Sky models. None of these models are still being produced by GM.
So what’s the takeaway?
Defective products kill and injure thousands of people in the United States annually. Consumers, safety regulators and legislators must remain vigilant about product safety, immediately reporting dangerous products while holding the companies that make and sell these products responsible.
If you are ever injured driving a defective car or truck, call a qualified Connecticut personal injury lawyer with experience handling defective product cases. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help to ensure that your rights are protected and that you get the justice you deserve.
For almost 60 years, the attorneys at RisCassi & Davis have been working hard to protect our clients.
And we have received significant state and national recognition for our work in this area. If you’re ever in a auto accident of any kind and would like a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers, please contact us. There is no obligation. And – there is no fee or other costs unless we are successful on your behalf.