In a number of our posts, we have discussed the responsibility an automaker has to inform consumers of dangerous defects, as well as their potential liability should a driver be injured in a crash caused by such a defect. American automaker General Motors has been a consistent example, given that the ignition switch defect discovered earlier this year has led to a firestorm of criticism about the company and how it has handled the problem.
It was later revealed that engineers for several vehicles, including the Saturn Ion and Pontiac G6 warned the company of the problem, but nothing was done…for over a decade. Now, as GM has paid a $35 million administrative fine and faces dozens of lawsuits, it reportedly is considering making payments to the families of those killed in fatal accidents caused by the defect.
According to a recent New York Times report, GM has appointed Kenneth Feinberg to oversee the company’s compensation program. Mr. Feinberg will reportedly have the final say in determining compensation in more than 120 death and 500 injury claims stemming from the defect. While it remains to be seen how much will eventually be paid, sources close to the situation have reported that the first 15 cases could see more than $70 million. Also, there is no word on how soon the remaining cases will be resolved, if at all.
The situation exemplifies a corporation’s responsibility to ensure consumers’ safety and the potential liability it faces if it fails in its duties. If you have questions about your rights in such a situation, an experienced personal injury attorney can help.