Fatal Montgomery Car Accident Prompts GM Ignition Switch Lawsuit

News of the recall of millions of General Motors vehicles due to a faulty ignition switch has been big national news, but one of the cases to result in a lawsuit involved a young mother here in Northwest Alabama.

She was killed in a Montgomery car accident in December, and now her father is suing the auto manufacturer on the grounds that it knew of the defects in the 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt model she was driving – and did nothing to warn her or other customers.

According to the lawsuit filed in Lauderdale County Circuit Court, the ignition in the woman’s vehicle suddenly quit on Dec. 4, 2013. As a result, the 3,200-pound vehiclel was totally uncontrollable. She crossed the center line into oncoming traffic, slamming directly into the path of an 18-wheeler log truck. Investigators say she died instantly as her vehicle burst into flames.

The stay-at-home mom left behind two young sons.

Representing her father in his case is former Alabama Lt. Gov. Jere Beasley. He contends – as have several members of Congress in a number of hearings on Capitol Hill – that GM was aware of problems with a number of different model vehicles as early as 2001. However, those revelations didn’t surface until just recently because, critics contend, GM officials chose to engage in a massive coverup rather than initiate a recall with a relatively inexpensive solution.

By some reports, the faulty ignition switch in question would have cost somewhere around 60 cents. So far, it’s been linked to more than a dozen deaths, though some analysts believe that is a serious underestimation.

A total of 2.6 million vehicles have been recalled relating specifically to the ignition switch. Those include the Chevrolet Cobalt, Pontiac G5, Pontiac Solstice, Chevrolet HHR, Saturn Ion and Saturn Sky manufactured between 2003 and 2011.

The company recalled 4.8 million vehicles overall in March, though not all of those were related to the ignition switch issue. Other recalled models included:

  • 1.8 million sport utility vehicles due to the fact that their side air bags, front center airbags and set belt pretentioners may not deploy if the driver ignores an airbag warning light.
  • 303,000 GMC Savana vans and Chevrolet Express, because an unbelted passenger’s head would not be adequately protected in a crash.
  • 64,000 Cadillac XTS sedans due to the fact that the plug in the brake assembly can get dislodged and cause a short, resulting in a fire.
  • 500,000 late-model SUVs and pickup trucks because transmission oil cooling lines weren’t properly secured, causing a fire risk.
  • 172,000 Chevrolet Cruze compact cars because the right front axle shaft can break and separate while being driven.

In the Montgomery case, the father filing the lawsuit is a former employee of Delphi Automotive, which made the switches that were supplied to GM. The company has since apologized for how the recall was handled, but so far, has not conceded to pay damages to victims.

Complicating matters is the fact that the automaker completed a bankruptcy in 2009. That would technically absolve it of any liability regarding prior issues. However, failing to pay families of victims could be a public relations nightmare from which the company might never recover.

Call Allred & Allred P.C. at 334.396.9200 to speak with a Montgomery personal injury lawyer.

Additional Resources:
GM sued over December fatal crash in Alabama, March 25, 2014, Associated Press
More Blog Entries:
Roe v. St. Louis University, et al. – Establishing Liability By Deliberate Indifference, April 4, 2014, Montgomery Car Accident Injury Lawyer Blog

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