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Severe Back and Neck Injuries Alleged in GM Ignition Switch Defect Recall

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Washington, DCBack and neck injuries are among the most severe and debilitating injuries. Injuries to the back and neck can cause paralysis, pain and, in some cases, death. Even seemingly minor accidents can cause whiplash, which can leave the patient with pain, headaches and damage to the ligaments. Back and neck claims are often linked to car accidents. Now, GM faces allegations that a defect in its ignition switch caused multiple car accidents, some of which resulted in death and others which caused serious head, back and neck trauma.

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.

Lawsuits have now been filed by various plaintiffs against GM, alleging GM knew about ignition switch defect for years but failed to take appropriate action. Plaintiffs say they or their loved ones were injured in accidents involving cars that improperly lost power, resulting in a variety of injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, back and neck injuries.

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.

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