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Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer discusses GM safety recall

RTA_9901GM has announced a recall of 1.6 million cars in the U.S. for a faulty ignition switch that can cut power without warning, shutting off safety systems, including airbags. GM knew of 13 deaths linked to the airbag failures.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into why GM did not promptly recall the vehicles after it learned that faulty ignition switches were causing fatal crashes.

An increasing number of defective airbags lead to a record number of recalls in 2013, according to NHTSA records. Airbags have, at times, failed to deploy in serious car crashes and deployed on drivers who weren’t in crashes, causing serious injuries.

GM recalled their vehicles in two phases last month, but documents filed with the federal safety agency demonstrate that the automaker first learned of the problem in 2004. GM told NHTSA that it knows of 31 frontal crashes and 13 front-seat deaths in cases in which the faulty ignition switch had moved out of the “run” position, resulting in the airbags failing to deploy. In a report filed with the NHTSA, GM said it first learned of the engine cutoff problem in 2004, around the time the 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt went on sale. Company engineers replicated the phenomenon in tests, but after considering the lead time, cost and effectiveness of potential solutions, they closed the inquiry without taking action.

In 2005, a 16-year-old girl was killed after her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt crashed and the air bag failed to deploy. When GM announced the recall, it included those 2005 Cobalts, saying that the ignition switch can shut off a car’s engine and electrical system, disabling its airbag. The 16-year olds death was the first of 13 linked to the problem and was an early warning that should have resulted in a much earlier recall that would have saved many other lives.

Top GM executives are now under scrutiny to explain why it took them a decade to recall and fix the faulty ignition switch that was used in 1.6 million Chevrolet, Pontiac, Saturn and Opel vehicles worldwide. The vehicles being recalled in the U.S. are Chevrolet Cobalts from the 2005-07 model years; 2003-07 Saturn Ions; 2006-07 Chevrolet HHRs and Pontiac Solstices; and 2007 Saturn Sky and Pontiac G5 models.

Last year, the NHTSA reported 632 safety recalls involving almost 22 million vehicles, the most since 2004, when recalls affected 30.8 million vehicles. Toyota had the most recalled vehicles for the second year in a row, with 5.3 million in 2013.

The report includes heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles, and buses, along with light-duty trucks and cars. Among the largest 18 automakers, 184 recalls were made for about 19.6 million vehicles last year. Both numbers are increases from 2012 when those same manufacturers issued 153 recalls for about 15.6 million vehicles.

Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer, James Christopher Munley advises you to check the safety history on your vehicle and also check the safety history prior to purchasing a used vehicle. You can also receive recall alerts from the NHTSA. For information, visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/Vehicle+Safety/Recalls+&+Defects.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, call the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law at 855-866-5529

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