GM Ignition Switches — What Legal Rights do You Have?

Ignition Switches — GM had Knowledge of Defective Products for More Than 10 Years

In a memo released on Sunday, March 30th, 2014 by the House subcommittee charged with investigating General Motor’s handling of the ignition switch defects, it was brought to light that GM discussed two different fixes for these defective switches, but cancelled them both without taking action.

GM ignition defectsCongress is now investigating why, when GM knew there were problems with the ignition switches as far back as 2001, they did not immediately issue recalls. Instead, they waited until at least 12 deaths were definitely linked to these defective products before taking action. Congress is also investigating why the National Traffic Safety Administration didn’t investigate the situation with these cars in spite of receiving evidence of this potentially fatal problem.

The nature of the problem with these ignition switches is this: these ignition switches can turn off by themselves if weighed down or bumped. Having a key fob or another key on the key chain that holds the ignition key is reportedly enough to trigger the problem. When the ignition switches off, the engine stops and the airbags disable which can result in tragedy when a vehicle is in motion.

The recall includes the Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac G5, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Ion and Saturn Sky from the 2003-’11 model years.

Your Legal Rights If You have Been Injured As a Result of a Faulty Ignition Switch

Car accidents caused by mechanical or design failures can leave victims with serious personal injuries. All too often, they result in wrongful death. If you were involved in an accident which was the result of negligence on the part of an auto manufacturer, you have the right to pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other losses.

Automotive components are often manufactured by corporations under subcontract to large automotive manufacturers. The primary contractor, GM for instance, is responsible for overseeing the crashworthiness and safety of the product but the manufacturer and subcontractors for smaller individual components may share liability for damages in the event of a failure that caused injury or death.

Investigating the cause of the failure and the responsibility for quality control requires knowledge of manufacturing laws and insurance policies that cover the manufacturing corporations.  This is a highly specialized area of law, so if you have been injured in a car accident caused by a defective auto part or system, such as these defective ignition switches, talk to an experienced auto defects injury lawyer as soon as possible. Time is an important factor during the initial investigation, and please keep in mind that West Virginia allows only two years to file a lawsuit after such injuries.

Toyota Fined 1.2 Billion for Deadly Auto Product Defects

Toyota was recently fined $1.2 billion for misleading regulators as well as the public about a deadly acceleration problem in its vehicles, and it remains to be seen whether the government will levy a similar penalty on GM. The $1.2 billion payment represents the largest criminal penalty imposed on a car company in U.S. history for hiding safety defects from the public in “blatant disregard” of the law. This is appropriate given the extent of the deception carried out by Toyota in this case.  Is General Motors next?

Those who have suffered harm due to a faulty ignition switch or due to any defective automobile should seek legal counsel. Consumers have rights and those rights must be protected.

If you have questions, Call today: 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

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Related Articles:

Defects in Vehicle Design Cause Serious Injury and Death

GM Under Fire for Slow Response to Fatal Vehicle Flaw

Source: The Dominion Post: Congress: GM Failed Twice to Fix Ignition Switch Defect, Associated Press, March 31, 2014.

Whiteout Conditions Cause Multi-vehicle Accident on I-81 in West Virginia

One of the beauties of West Virginia is its mountains and high altitudes. It looks like “almost heaven” from the windows of our homes, but once you get out on the roads, it can seem quite the opposite when snow, ice, and foggy conditions make driving treacherous, often causing vehicle wrecks and injuries. We all have pressing obligations which make going out on the roads, no matter how bad the conditions, seem mandatory.

Whiteout causes multi-vehicle accident on I-81Driving hazards are increased exponentially, though, as the temperature drops below freezing and can make even the simplest commute extremely dangerous, causing multiple-car crashes.  A recent example of this was when a snowstorm in late March 2014 caused whiteout conditions in Berkeley County near Martinsburg, WV causing more than 40 vehicles to collide in two separate incidents on Interstate 81 near Falling Waters, West Virginia, killing two people and injuring seven others.

The two fatalities occurred on the northbound lane, and the seven people were injured in the accident on the southbound lane of I-81.  A total of 44 vehicles were involved in this traffic pileup, including several tractor-trailers, and 15 to 20 vehicles were significantly damaged. The injured were taken by helicopters to Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg. The vehicles were rerouted to Highway 11, but it was slow going due to the high number of vehicles and people making their morning commute on the interstate.

Challenges and risks unique to the season – which this year has extended much longer than expected — require heightened vigilance, and drivers must adjust their driving to meet the demands of the road.

How to File an Insurance Claim if You have Been Involved in a Multi-car Collision

In a multi-car pileup, fault may be harder to prove because of the multiple vehicles involved. Contact your insurance company right away and provide information about the effects of the accident on your vehicle and your health, and any information you gathered from other drivers at the accident scene. If you have any reason to believe you were injured and haven’t seen a doctor, go immediately.

Sometimes the adrenaline your body produced immediately after the accident can mask symptoms which can later cause you a great deal of pain, and early treatment can eliminate a lot of future medical problems and pain. Often, early intervention with physical therapy can eliminate a need for surgery later – so get a medical opinion right away. Follow all doctor’s orders, document everything, and keep records and receipts from all medical office visits, as well as receipts from all expenses related to the crash.

If you have been severely injured, it is important to your claim for you to keep personal notes about how these injuries are affecting you and your family on a daily basis. If your damages were small and you weren’t seriously injured, chances are you can settle your claim yourself.

If you believe your insurance adjuster has not treated you fairly or considered all the facts and expenses related to your claim, you may need the help of an experienced car accident attorney. Claims adjusters are trained to minimize claims, so to obtain your case’s full value, a strong advocate on your side can be your best asset.

Questions? Call today: 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

Find Jeff Robinette on Google.

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Source: WHSV.com: “2 Killed In I-81 Pileup During Whiteout in W.Va.” March 26, 2014.

When Medical Conditions Cause Accidents, Injuries, and Property Damage

It is always tragic when an unforeseen major medical condition like a heart attack or stroke causes the collision of a bus, car, or truck and injures people and damages property.  The driver feels awful for being the cause of the collision, and those hurt by an accident or wreck are left wondering if it could have been prevented.  Medically unfit drivers can cause dangerous car, truck, and bus accidents, putting innocent people at risk of serious personal injury or death.  Unfortunately, sometimes these medical emergencies come on so suddenly that they could not have been foreseen, but in other cases the driver is aware that this possibility exists.

Truck Crashes into Home in West Milford WV

Just this week in Harrison County WV a truck, according to firefighters, “unknowingly” crashed into the side of a home, causing both occupants of the truck to be taken to the hospital for injuries, and caused extensive property damage to the home on Main Street in West Milford.  The driver of the truck pulled out of a Dollar General Store parking lot and then drove across the street right into the side of a house or building.  The most likely explanation for this accident would be a sudden complete loss of control by the truck’s driver, possibly caused by a medical condition.

Self-Reporting of Medical Conditions for WV Driver’s License Renewal

In West Virginia, when an adult goes to renew their driver’s license every five years, they are testing for general vision and are asked to self-report any medical conditions that may affect their driving ability.  Some of the conditions which may affect driving include severe arthritis, loss of vision and hearing, narcolepsy, any condition which could cause you to lose consciousness, mental disorders, and drugs which may cause drowsiness including pain medicines and medical marijuana. These drivers, if the license renewal is granted, are required by law to act prudently for their own safety and the safety of others with whom they share the road.righting_the_wrong_3d

Commercial bus and truck drivers are required to take a medical test every two years, but the actual rules as originally stated were too loose and opened the door to all types of abuses. For example, a terrible accident happened in New Jersey between a truck and a school bus that was caused by a medically unfit school bus driver, and just this week six people suffered serious injuries after a commercial bus crashed into a row of parked cars in Brooklyn, NYC.  The bus driver apparently suffered a stroke behind the wheel and lost the control of the bus.

To try to prevent such tragedies from happening again, now all bus and truck drivers are required to be examined only by a Certified Medical Examiner who has been specifically trained and successfully passed a test that qualifies them to assess if a CDL driver is medically fit to perform his job.

 West Virginia Car Wreck, Property Damage, and Truck Accident Lawyers

There is compensation available for the injured and those who have suffered property damage from an accident.  A qualified, experienced personal injury attorney knows how to maximize your recovery and gain the compensation you need to pay for all of your losses including medical bills, pain and suffering, and property damage.  If you have questions regarding a collision which has directly affected you, your vehicle, or your home or building, visit our Robinette Legal Group website to find answers, or call to talk to one of our attorneys to get the help you need:  304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

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Sources: 

WBOY News:  “Two people Injured After Vehicle Collides Into Building” by Marisa Matyola, March 17, 2014.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:  “Driver License Policies and Practices.”

Two People Injured When Tractor Trailer Loses Tire on I-79

Truck drivers and trucking companies are responsible for routinely inspecting their trucks and performing necessary maintenance. When they fail to follow these guidelines, innocent lives are put at risk.  Semi trucks that weigh thousands of pounds and travel at high speeds need to be in safe operating condition. Due to the speed and mass involved in commercial truck travel, failure to maintain truck parts can lead to serious accidents, causing catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.

A recent example in West Virginia occurred on February 27th, 2014 when two people were seriously injured when a tire flew off of a tractor trailer which was traveling south on I-79, then bounced across the interstate, and went through the car’s windshield in the northbound lane of traffic.

The collision happened at approximately 4 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 79 northbound just north of Jane Lew near Lost Creek.  The man who was driving the car was flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital with severe injuries and his passenger, a woman, was transported to a local hospital.  According to the news reports, the driver of the truck kept on going, not recognizing he was missing a wheel.

The truck was driving southbound when the tire came loose, traveled across the median and struck the car driving in the northbound lane.  Reporters called this a “freak accident,” but this type of collision resulting from faulty tractor-trailer maintenance is not as uncommon as you might imagine.

In fact, a few years ago I handled a very similar case in which a motorist was forced to swerve out of her lane of traffic to avoid an oncoming tire that had been thrown off of a semi-truck trailer.  Unfortunately for this driver, in her attempt to avoid the errant wheel, she collided with another vehicle and became involved in a multi-car crash.  The truck company’s response was, “This was just an accident.  These things happen.”Truck tire causes accident

These things “happen” as a result of someone’s failure to follow and obey DOT trucking regulations.  These things happen because of neglected truck maintenance and unperformed mountaintop safety checks.  These things happen when annual and periodic inspections are not performed as required.  These things happen when rims are not properly secured.  These things happen when wheels and rims are cracked or broken.  These things happen when stud or bolt holes on the wheels are elongated (out of round).  These things happen when nuts or bolts are missing or loose.

At Robinette Legal Group, we have extensive experience handling truck accident lawsuits for clients throughout West Virginia. While some law firms handle the occasional truck accident case, our firm makes truck accidents and personal injury law our primary focus.

Common causes of truck accidents include:

  • Faulty brakes
  • Faulty steering components
  • Truck tire blowouts
  • Inadequate lighting and reflectors
  • Inadequate under-ride protection

Our attorneys have the investigative resources to uncover the causes of truck accidents and determine who was responsible for the accident. We have access to experts in accident reconstruction, truck maintenance and other relevant fields who help us prepare our cases. We will put our skill and experience to work for you to help you obtain full and fair compensation for the losses you have suffered.

Contact Us

Have you or a loved one been injured in a truck accident? Call today to speak with an experienced accidents due to truck maintenance lawyer.  Contact us to learn how we can help you recover full and fair money damages for your truck accident injuries and financial losses.  From our offices in Morgantown, our truck accident lawyers represent clients in car accident and motor vehicle injury cases throughout West Virginia:  304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

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Source:  WBOY News:  “2 Transported to Hospital After Tire Breaks Car Windshield on I-79.”  February 27, 2014.