GM to Pay $900 Million for Faulty Ignition Switches

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General Motors has agreed to pay $900 million to settle criminal charges related to the company’s failure to fix a deadly defect in millions of its cars. The problem involved an ignition switch that was prone to shutting off mid-drive, thereby cutting the engine and disabling systems like power steering and air bags. GM also admitted to covering up the defect for more than a decade.

The faulty ignition switches have been blamed for hundreds of wrecks since GM first recognized the issue during pre-production testing of the Saturn Ion back in 2001. Three years later, the defect was again detected in the Chevy Cobalt. In 2005, GM acknowledged the flaw in a public statement, but said that it did not pose a safety threat. That same year, the company rejected a proposal to fix the problem, saying that it would be too costly and take too much time. Later, GM began performing its own internal investigations into the issue, all while the company fought back against lawsuits filed by bereaved families and injured car accident victims.

Since then, at least 124 people have died and many more have been injured in crashes caused by the known defect. For these victims and their families, the penalty imposed on GM and the recent apology offered by the company’s new CEO provide little comfort. Many argue that those who knew about the defect, including engineers, supervisors and attorneys at GM, should be held accountable for their negligent inaction. Fifteen GM employees were fired for their involvement of the cover-up, but so far, none have faced criminal charges.

As part of the settlement, the U.S. Justice Department agreed to defer prosecution for three years, provided GM cooperates with federal officials. GM must also hire an independent monitor of its safety practices and recall procedures. After that time, all charges against the company will be dropped and its record will be wiped clean.

In addition to the $900 million in fines, GM has set aside $575 million to settle civil cases involving about 1,380 people. This money will be added to the compensation fund previously set up by GM to pay the families of those fatally injured, as well as those who incurred non-fatal injuries in car accidents.

Maryland Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Fight for Maximum Compensation for Injured Victims and Their Families

If you or a loved one was involved in a serious car accident caused by a defective auto part, we can help. For more than 30 years, Maryland accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton have successfully represented accident victims and their families throughout Maryland. We fight to obtain maximum compensation to cover the costs associated with the accident including medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning potential, pain and suffering and other damages. To schedule your free consultation with one of our compassionate and seasoned Maryland car accident lawyers, call 800-547-4LAW (4529) today. Someone on our qualified legal team is available to take your call 24 hours a day or you can submit an online contact form.

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