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Faulty ignition switch in G.M. cars linked to 12 deaths

A vehicle has a number of moving parts and systems, which leaves the door open for something to go wrong. Motorists in San Diego who find themselves with an illuminated “check engine” light usually head into a mechanic to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, there are instances in which drivers do not get any warning of a defect and fatal car accidents ensue. One embattled car manufacturer apparently knew about potential ignition shutdowns well before the company had initially disclosed.

In an updated report, General Motors noted that this year it performed a number of analyses on vehicles that had the same ignition that caused fatal problems in the Saturn Ion and Chevrolet Cobalt. However, the manufacturer first learned about the faulty ignition in 2001, despite an initial disclosure that reports did not come until three years later. The new timeline has led the Justice Department announce a criminal investigation into how G.M. disclosed information to regulators.

The initial report from G.M. noted that the company learned in 2004 that the ignition switch in the Cobalt could turn off if the driver bumped it. The first report also detailed studies that showed the company did not find a problem with the switch in 2012, though the recent disclosures demonstrate that G.M. knew of two nonfatal accidents with Ions that could have been linked to the ignition.

Overall, the defect has been linked to at least 31 wrecks and 12 deaths over the course of the last 10 years. People who are seriously injured in car accidents are entitled to seek compensation through filing a personal injury claim. If a manufacturer produces a damaged product responsible for injury or death, the company may be held liable. An attorney can help an individual or a family of a deceased loved one determine the right course of action to take to recover damages.

Source: New York Times, “G.M. Reveals It Was Told of Ignition Defect in ’01,” Danielle Ivory, March 12, 2014

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