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CEO Faces Tough Auto Product Liability Questions On Capitol Hill

Following up on our blog post on GM’s recall of some compact cars, including the Chevrolet Cobalt, on March 20, 2014 (“Auto product liability case may answer questions for many”), the CEO of General Motors had to answer a number of tough questions regarding the recall on Capitol Hill. Consumers across the United States, including New Jersey, await the answers to questions posed about how the unsafe defect was handled. General Motors may face several auto product liability claims resulting from the lack of protection offered to consumers.

Two hearings took place in early April — one before a House subcommittee and one before a Senate subcommittee. The hearing before the House subcommittee lasted for four hours. The CEO of GM and a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official had to answer questions asked by more than 20 panel members. To date, 13 fatal accidents and at least 31 front-end accidents have been linked to the ignition switch problem.

According to officials, the malfunctioning ignition switch could cause the key to move to the “off” or “accessory” position — which leads to a loss of power, while the front air bags may also malfunction in an accident. During the hearing, reference was made to testimony and documents submitted reportedly proving that GM was aware of the malfunctioning ignition switches for 14 years, but only recalled vehicles last month. As expected, the NHTSA administrator claimed that information was withheld by GM.

There is little doubt that these hearings are just the beginning of a prolonged process of investigations which will hopefully provide some answers to the devastated family members. Auto product liability claims may be instituted against GM by the estates of deceased victims, or individuals injured in accidents in New Jersey, caused by the defective ignition switch in the Chevrolet Cobalt or any of the other compact cars recalled. Although it may provide only a small amount of emotional consolation to families, it can assist in making their lives easier in a financial manner.

Source: mlive.com, “GM ignition switch recall: 5 things to know from congressional hearing“, Michael Wayland, April 2, 2014