When people in Illinois purchase a new car, they expect that car to operate free of any manufacturing or design defect. That expectation has gone unmet for thousands of people who are now involved in an action against General Motors that claims injury and death for an undetermined number of victims. Seven fatalities due to crashes caused by a malfunctioning ignition switch produced by GM were found to be eligible for wrongful death compensation, and the number is growing. The website GMIgnitionCompensation reports that a total of 4342 claims have been made. The deadline to file a victim compensation claim was January 1, 2015, although supporting documents may still be accepted electronically for existing claims. Thus far, 200 claims have been deemed eligible, 1025 are ineligible, 716 lack documentation and the remainder are still under preliminary consideration. As a Chicago personal injury lawyer would know, processing this many claims may take months. Automotive News reports that full processing may not be completed before summer.
Mechanical failure in multiple vehicle models
A massive recall went into effect in 2014 for several mid- and late-2000’s model cars. Some switches faltered when they were knocked or pulled out of position by a heavy key ring or a bumpy road. Vehicles, their drivers and passengers were at risk of death when the malfunction cut power to power steering, brakes and airbags. Vehicle models in the recall included the following:
- 2003-2007 Saturn Ion
- 2007-2010 Saturn Sky
- 2005-2011 Chevy HHR
- 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice
- 2005-2010 Chevy Cobalt
- Pontiac G5
As outlined on edmunds.com, thorough documentation may be the key to a successful claim. Without it, a claim may be completely disregarded, even when a claimant feels his or her injuries are apparent. Eligible claims in the GM case are required to show proof that airbags did not deploy in a crash, and must show that the defective switch was the primary factor in causing the accident.
Issue known to GM
An investigation supported by GM revealed that some GM employees were aware of the problem with the ignition switch as long as 10 years ago, but failed to prioritize the issue. Claims filed reflect the type of categories under which a claim may fall. A Chicago personal injury lawyer would recognize the distinctions as deceased, category one and category two. Category one may be defined as injury resulting in quadriplegia, paraplegia, debilitating burns, double amputation and severe brain damage. Category two encompasses injuries that required hospitalization or outpatient medical care within 48 hours of the crash.
Estimated compensation for victims
GM may pay out between $400 and $600 million in victim compensation before the issue is resolved. In cases of wrongful death such as this one, a Chicago personal injury lawyer may be able to help victims make successful claims that result in appropriate compensation for their loss.