Defective equipment in automobiles have killed or severely injured hundreds of people in recent years. Take for example the recent injuries and deaths over General Motors (GM) ignition switches, which have allegedly killed more than 120 people and injured another 275. The faulty ignition switches caused some GM vehicles to shut down while driving. Once impacts occurred, airbags did not deploy.
The resulting car accidents had brutal consequences for motorists and their passengers. One accident paralyzed a 10-year-old boy, and other cases involved motorists suffering burns and requiring amputations.
Accident survivors have had their lives ruined over a defect that GM knew about and failed to resolve before motorists suffered injuries. These injuries and deaths are not only inexcusable for GM, but for any auto manufacturer. The New York Times published an informative timeline of who knew about the faulty ignition switches and when.
According to The New York Times, GM was warned by Delphi in 2002 that the ignition switches did not meet specifications. Delphi is the manufacturer of the ignition switches. By 2003, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration began to receive complaints about vehicles shutting off while driving. Over the next two years, GM continued to investigate the ignition switches.
By 2005, the first death occurred, and while GM issued a warning to retailers, it did not issue a recall. Over the next several years, more accidents caused by the faulty ignition switch occurred.
Auto Recalls Can Prevent Accidents and Save Lives
Issuing a recall would have alerted consumers to a serious safety hazard present in their vehicles, and many deaths and catastrophic injuries may have been avoided. GM has since opened a $595 million compensation fund for those affected by the faulty ignition switches. The settlements may offer medical services and lost income to survivors and family members, but it cannot bring back their old lives or lost loved ones.
Not taking a defect seriously is a mistake that must never be repeated by another auto manufacturer. Human lives are worth more than profits and the reputations of companies.
More information on this case can be found on the U.S. Department of Justice website.