Despite a recent settlement, litigation against General Motors (GM) continues for accidents re-lated to the company’s faulty ignition switches. According to an article by the New York Times, the settlement involved the parents of a 29-year-old Georgia woman who was killed in an accident while driving a GM car equipped with one of the faulty switches. Terms of the settlement were not made public, but it is believed that the settlement is in excess of $5 million.
Even with the settlement, GM is still being sued for the faulty switches in what has been dubbed “multi-district litigation.” The multi-district litigation includes several cases against the car maker that have been consolidated into one case. It is estimated that nearly 70 people have died in cars equipped with the faulty switch, while another 115 or so have been seriously injured.
While the case involving the Georgia woman is now settled, information obtained during the discovery phase of the case will most certainly be used by plaintiffs in the multi-district litigation. Based on documents reviewed by lawyers in the settled case, it is argued that GM was aware of problems with the ignition switches for about 10 years. The litigation also revealed what the plaintiffs’ claim to be unexpectedly loose safety standards within the company.
As a result of these disclosures, GM fired 15 employees and recalled about 30 million vehicles, some of which involved other safety defects.
Recovering Damages Against Auto Manufacturers
Lawsuits for personal injuries take many forms. If a driver causes an accident, and that accident causes an injury to another driver, passenger, or pedestrian, the victim can sue the driver for negligence. Certain family members may be able to sue the driver as well.
Negligence in car accident cases means that the driver who caused the accident did not take reasonable care when operating his or her vehicle. When this occurs, we say that the driver “breached” his or her duty towards the injured party.
In contrast to a straightforward negligence case, cases involving defective auto parts often do not require proof that the manufacturer breached a duty of care towards the injured party. Instead, a plaintiff must only show that the part was defective when it left the manufacturer’s control, and that the defect directly caused the plaintiff’s injuries. In Georgia, we call this “strict liability.”
Once it is established that a part is defective, strict liability makes it easier for a plaintiff to recover for damages. Since an injured party does not have to prove negligence, an auto maker that produces a defective part has limited defenses to a plaintiff’s claim. As a result, automakers have an incentive to prioritize the safety of their parts.
Even so, defective and dangerous parts do slip through the cracks. If it can be proven that GM knew that the ignition switch in many of its cars was defective, this will be likely to cost the company a lot of money in the future.
Have You Been In an Accident?
Accidents are bound to happen. This we know. What we don’t always know is why they happen. Was another driver at fault? Did the manufacturer of the car design and install a defective part that caused you to be injured?
As personal injury lawyers, we can help you answer these questions, and help you recover damages if you are entitled to recover. We take a personal interest in each one of our clients. We get to know you as a person so that we understand what it takes to make you whole after your injury. This is our commitment to you. For a free consultation, call Miller Legal Services at 770-284-3727.
See Related Blog Posts
Man Killed in Georgia Biking Accident, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, February 25, 2015.
Filmmakers Plead Guilty and Avoid Trial in Fatal Train Georgia Accident, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, March 18, 2015.