Over the course of the last year, GM has recalled approximately 2.6 million vehicles, mostly Cobalts and Ions, due to various dangerous manufacturing defects. Chief among these defects was a faulty ignition switch that caused the vehicles to stall while in operation, drastically increasing the chance of an accident. In addition, the faulty ignition switch interfered with the proper deployment of the airbag, meaning that in many of the crashes caused by the faulty switch, the airbag should have but didn’t deploy. In total, there have been 13 deaths attributed to the various GM recalls as well as over 55 accidents resulting in injury.
Not surprisingly, the myriad of accidents caused by the defective autos have spurred a number of lawsuits, many of which have settled out of court for a significant amount of money. In one Georgia case, GM provided a settlement of $5 million to the family of a woman who was killed in an accident involving one of the defective vehicles.
However, to further complicate matters, a report recently came out indicating that GM knew about the defect when it settled the case. In response to this report, the family of the victim has refiled the suit, alleging that GM hid its knowledge of the defect when it settled the case.
The Relevance of the “Hidden Knowledge”
The Georgia case was based on the defective nature of the product. Part and parcel of a defective products claim is the manufacturer’s knowledge that the product was defective. At the time that GM settled the case, the plaintiff had no evidence that GM knew about the defective vehicles, so going to trial involved quite a bit of risk. If the jury determined that GM had no knowledge, recovery would not have been available.
The plaintiffs now argue that, had they known about this report showing that GM did know about the defects, they could have more confidently taken the case to trial. Thus, the plaintiffs are refiling the case, hoping to reopen it, and they will no doubt seek additional damages or try the case in front of a jury.
In its pleading to the court, GM has claimed that the matter has already been settled and that there is nothing left for the court to do. Essentially, this is minimizing the report that tends to show there was knowledge of the defective vehicles. The question remains of whether the settlement is valid if the plaintiffs were induced into it by incomplete information? Was GM under a duty to report its knowledge of the defect, if it indeed had such knowledge?
Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Accident?
If you have recently been in an accident that involved one of the recalled GM vehicles, you may be entitled to monetary compensation based on the defective manufacturing of the vehicle. GM is likely facing hundred of lawsuits based on the company’s recent recalls, and no doubt there are hundreds, if not thousands, of additional injuries that could be compensated. To speak to an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney about your case, click here, or call 770-284-3727.
See Related Blog Posts
Georgia Teen Dies in Car Accident, Possibly While Street Racing, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, May 28, 2014.
Georgia Court of Appeals Finds that Plaintiff’s Provided Notice Was Sufficient, Although Imperfect, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 4, 2014.