Over the past several years, General Motors has paid out over $2 billion in fines and damages related to faulty ignition switches in several of the company’s models. In cases across the country, accident victims claimed that GM was responsible for their injuries, due to the faulty switches. However, the problem was not just that the switches were faulty but also that there was evidence that GM knew about the defects but failed to take appropriate action.
After the defect was discovered, GM filed for bankruptcy. Post-bankruptcy, GM then argued that it should not be held liable in any of the lawsuits stemming from the faulty ignition switch that were filed prior to the company filing for bankruptcy. An earlier lower court ruling rejected the company’s claim, finding that the company may be held liable for the pre-bankruptcy claims. GM then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
According to a national news source, the United States Supreme Court recently rejected GM’s appeal, leaving in place the lower court decision. Some experts hypothesize that the most recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion could expose the auto-manufacturing giant to liability in a significant number of unsettled cases, potentially resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
The Ignition Switch Defect
The basis of the lawsuits against GM was that the company manufactured several models over a number of years with a defective ignition switch despite having knowledge that a serious safety issue existed. In models containing the defective ignition switch, the vehicle would shut off randomly, leaving the driver with little to no control of the vehicle. It is estimated that the total number of deaths caused by the faulty ignition switches is around 124. GM disputes that figure, placing the number around 13.
After the company’s knowledge of the defect was discovered, thousands of lawsuits were filed against the auto-manufacturing giant. The company has settled many of the pending lawsuits by establishing a multi-million-dollar fund to settle victims’ claims. In addition, GM was fined approximately $900 million by the federal government. In addition to the claims already filed, there are potentially hundreds more at various stages in the process. This most recent opinion may mean that many of these cases will again proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.
Have You Been Injured Due to a Defective Product?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured due to the use of a dangerous product, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Manufacturers have a duty to ensure that their products are safe, and when a product is marketed as safe but turns out to be dangerous or defective, the manufacturer may be liable for any resulting injuries. The skilled personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the Indiana law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have decades of experience handling product liability cases and know what it takes to be successful in Indiana courts. Call 888-765-7411 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney to discuss your case today.
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