GM’s ignition-switch defect problems have been in national news for quite some time, and now the manufacturer is faced with another ignition-related defect that has prompted yet another recall. In August 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the recall of 202,155 GM vehicles. The recall includes certain model year 2002 to 2004 Saturn Vue vehicles manufactured between September 11, 2001, and April 6, 2004. According to the NHTSA report, the ignition keys in the affected vehicles can be removed from the ignition even when the ignition is not in the “off” position.
This defect poses a risk of serious injury to occupants of the vehicles or to anyone nearby. For affected vehicles with automatic transmissions, the removal of the ignition key while the vehicle is not in the “off” position can cause the vehicle to roll away if it has not been put in “park.” For affected vehicles with manual transmissions, the vehicles can roll away if the parking brake has not been engaged and the transmission has not been shifted into the reverse gear. GM will notify owners of the recall and has stated that dealers will inspect the vehicles to determine if the keys can be pulled out when the ignition is off. The dealers will replace the ignition cylinders and keys of vehicles whose keys can be removed in this manner, free of charge.
Who is responsible if someone is injured or killed as a result of this GM defect? Can a manufacturer be held liable for injuries or deaths caused by defective vehicles after they have been recalled? Can the manufacturer be liable if someone is injured by a defect after failing to heed the manufacturer’s recall? The answers to these questions may depend on the product liability law of the state in which a legal action is filed.
If you or a family member has been injured or killed as a result of a defect in a motor vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation from those responsible for your injuries or loved one’s death. The Killino Firm’s team of car accident and defective products lawyers has extensive experience with all types of personal injury and accident cases, including those arising out of auto or car accidents caused by defects in motor vehicles, and will provide you with expert and aggressive assistance in seeking the justice you and your family deserve.
Legal Liability for Injuries and Deaths Caused by Vehicle Defects
Injuries or death caused by defects in a car or other motor vehicle may result in the liability of the manufacturer and others in the chain of the defective vehicle’s distribution under the product liability law of the state in which a legal action is filed. Product liability law varies somewhat from state to state, despite the enactment, by most states, of some form of the Model Uniform Product Liability Act (MUPLA). Under the product liability law of most states, however, the manufacturer, designer, assembler, supplier, and others involved in the production and distribution of a defective vehicle may be found liable for injuries or deaths determined to have been caused by the vehicle’s defect. The defendants in such actions may also include the designers and manufacturers of component parts of a vehicle. Though the retailers of defective products are generally subject to liability for injuries and deaths caused by a product defect, many states have relieved the sellers of cars and other motor vehicles from liability for injuries or deaths caused by vehicle defects of which the seller was unaware.
Under most states’ product liability laws, product liability actions may be brought as breach of warranty, strict liability, or negligence claims. When a product liability action is brought to recover damages for a victim’s injury or death, however, the strict liability form of product liability action is usually preferred. The strict liability form of action allows a plaintiff to obtain compensation for injuries or deaths caused by a product defect without having to prove negligence on the part of any of the defendants. Thus, even if the manufacturer and other defendants were not negligent in producing a defective vehicle and releasing it for sale, each one of the defendants may be held legally liable for injuries or deaths determined to have been caused by a particular vehicle defect.
As these defendants are strictly liable for such injuries or deaths, the manufacturer’s recall of the defective vehicle will generally not relieve the manufacturer and other defendants from liability for injuries or deaths caused by a vehicle’s defect even after the vehicle was recalled. A victim’s failure to heed a recall before the victim’s injury occurred may also not relieve the defendants of liability in a strict liability action.
In some cases, though accidents are not caused by vehicle defects, a victim’s injuries may be enhanced by a defect in safety equipment installed in a vehicle, such as a seatbelt or airbag. The manufacturers and others in the vehicle’s chain of distribution may be held liable for such injuries, as well.
Obtain Expert Assistance from The Killino Firm, P.C.
The Killino Firm’s team of accident and personal injury attorneys has extensive experience with cases arising out of injuries or deaths caused by defective cars and other motor vehicles. Our lawyers are dedicated to holding the manufacturers and others responsible for such vehicle defects and the injuries and deaths they have caused responsible through legal action. If you have been injured or one of your family members has been killed in a car or other motor vehicle accident as a result of a defective vehicle or defective vehicle safety equipment, The Killino Firm can help you fight for the compensation to which you and your family are entitled.