GM Expands Recall, Sets Settlement Terms for Victims

In the latest General Motors update, the company just issued another massive recall affecting about 8.4 million vehicles. The vast majority of these vehicles are being recalled for the same ignition defects that have already caused fatal crashes and serious injuries throughout the country. GM recall attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm also highlight the recent decisions GM has made on how it will compensate these victims.

This latest recall brings the total number of defective GM vehicles to 29 million worldwide, and is likely the result of the automaker’s new focus on safety investigations. Many consumers are wondering when the auto industry’s safety issues will end – already this year, automakers have set the national record for most recalls in a single year.

GM’s troubles began in February of this year, when defects were discovered in millions of Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars. The deadly ignition defects can cause vehicles to suddenly lose power while in operation, leading to many accidents and at least a dozen deaths.

Automakers often buy parts from the same manufacturers (such as airbags from Takata Corp., which caused recalls in June). Because of this, the ignition problems are not limited to GM cars; Chrysler, too, recently recalled nearly 700,000 SUVs and minivans made between 2007 and 2009 for the same defects. This was the result of new federal safety regulations that now requires all major automakers to review their vehicles for ignition-switch problems.

The silver lining on this crisis is how it has exposed the lax safety practices of automakers, and is forcing them to conduct comprehensive reviews of their vehicles. Fifteen employees have been fired from GM after an internal investigation. Those employees were dismissed for their part in allowing the ignition defects to go unreported and unrepaired for over ten years. Federal regulators also fined the company $35 million.

GM has publically admitted to negligence and incompetence, however it denies that it has habitually and purposefully ignored safety issues. The company has brought on a new vice president to oversee all safety programs, and it working to address any outstanding issues.

Among the vehicles involved in this latest recall include:

• Chevrolet Malibu (1997-2005)
• Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo (2000-2005)
• Cadillac SRX (2004-2006)
• Cadillac CTS (2003-2014)
• Pontiac Grand Am (1999-2005)
• Pontiac Grand Prix (2004-2008)
• Oldsmobile Alero (1999-2004)
• Oldsmobile Intrigue (1998-2002)

Consumers who own any of these vehicles will need to take it in to a dealership to replace or fix the keys and the small ring that they key fits into.

$1 Million For Each Ignition Death

Massive litigation has come out of these recalls, including lawsuits filed by families who lost loved ones in crashes caused by the ignition defects. GM recently announced that it will use a starting point of $1 million to compensate these families, and will not set limits on a settlement fund for other victims.

Anyone who was injured in a crash caused by a defective car will be eligible to take part in this settlement and collect compensation for any medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. This can include those injured as bystanders or drivers or passengers in other vehicles involved in crashes with defective GM cars.

Although GM filed for bankruptcy in 2009, this will not affect the settlement fund or the ability for victims to file claims against the automaker. Victims who settled with GM before the ignition switch recalls will also be eligible to take part in the settlement, to collect additional compensation.

As stated, those who were catastrophically injured and families who lost loved ones will be able to receive around $1 million. Victims who suffered less devastating injuries will be eligible to collect $20,000 for one night in the hospital and $500,000 for hospitals stays over one month. Those who received only outpatient treatment will have a $20,000 recovery limit.

Even victims who were intoxicated or who were driving while distracted will be eligible to receive compensation, as will anyone who suffers an accident between now and the end of the year. Anyone who participates in the settlement, however, will waive their right to file a lawsuit against GM.

Our team of GM recall lawyers is currently investigating cases of injury in an accident where the airbag failed to deploy. If you have any questions about these recalls or the settlement fund, contact our office. Our legal consultations are always free, no-obligation, and available to injured parties and their families nationwide.

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