GM recently faced a government hearing, at which senators accused the company of covering up an issue with the ignition switch in certain car models. In those models, the ignition switch could accidentally be moved to the “accessory” or “off” position by something as minor as hitting a bump in the road. When that happens, the power is cut to the engine, power steering and anti-lock brakes. Worse, as the driver loses control of the vehicle - in risk of being in an accident - power is also lost to the airbags, so if the car is in a collision, the airbags will not inflate.
Failure of the airbags to deploy puts the people in the vehicle at risk of serious head, back and neck injuries. So far, 13 deaths and 33 accidents have been linked to the ignition switch issue, although as officials investigate the problem, more accidents and injuries could come to light.
According to the Los Angeles Times (4/2/14), GM now faces a criminal investigation into whether the company acted illegally in not ordering a recall of its vehicles sooner. A recall was finally announced in February, but the company reportedly knew about this issue as early as 2001.
READ MORE BACK AND NECK INJURY LEGAL NEWS
Click on Detroit (1/1/14) reports on a 19-year-old who died after he borrowed his friend’s car for a fast food run. The car crashed into a tree and both occupants died. Joseph Harding was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash, but his face still hit the windshield, breaking his neck and killing him. The airbags reportedly did not deploy in the accident. The news report notes that both occupants of the vehicle had been drinking and the driver was speeding at the time of the crash. Still, if the airbags had deployed, the young men might have survived the accident.