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Record $35 Million Penalty in GM Ignition Switch Case

The McClellan Law Firm

General Motors (GM) has agreed to pay a record $35 million civil penalty to settle a federal probe into the company's handling of an ignition switch defect that led to at least 13 deaths and the recall of 2.6 million vehicles.

The U.S Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the settlement last Friday, stating GM had agreed to the $35 penalty following the agency's "timeliness investigation regarding the Chevrolet Cobalt and the automaker's failure to report a safety defect in the vehicle to the federal government in a timely manner." This penalty is the highest ever resulting from a NHTSA investigation of violations related to a recall.

GM has also agreed to provide the NHTSA with full access to the results of the company's internal investigation into its recall process and has announced plans to produce enough parts by October to repair the majority of vehicles included in the recall. The automaker must also take steps to make sure its employees report any issues related to vehicle safety to managers, and must speed up its process of determining whether vehicles should be recalled.

This defect and resulting recall have garnered national attention over the past several years, not only because the defect was present but because GM failed to act on information of the defect for 10 years. The first ignition switch recalls occurred earlier this year, but it then came to light that GM employees knew of the issues as early as 2004.

The automaker has since recalled some 2.6 million vehicles (2.19 million in the United States) for a defect that can result in the keys falling from the ignition while the vehicle is being driven, which can be dangerous because it disengages the airbags. If an accident occurs, the airbags will not deploy and vehicle occupants may be seriously injured or killed. At least 13 deaths have been attributed to the ignition switch defect in GM vehicles.

The NHTSA is also pursuing legislation that would increase allowable penalties in such cases, sending a stronger message to automakers and other responsible parties regarding the timeliness of recalls.

GM's ignition switch recall includes the 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice and 2007-2010 Saturn Sky.

Representing Consumers Injured by Defective Motor Vehicles

When we get behind the wheel of a car, we do so with the expectation that every part will work. We rely on auto manufacturers to produce vehicles that are free from defects and safe to drive. When manufacturing defects or poor designs affect the operation and crashworthiness of our vehicles, we may suffer serious injuries in resulting auto accidents.

At The McClellan Law Firm, auto product liability is an important part of our firm's practice. We represent vehicle owners and others who have been injured because of defective or poorly designed vehicles and vehicle parts. Though manufacturers like GM have vast resources they may use to counteract personal injury and wrongful death litigation stemming from defects, we have the skill, experience and resources of our own to represent consumers' interests.

Whether you were injured in an accident involving an ignition switch defect or any other type of defective vehicle part, you can get experienced insight from a San Diego personal injury attorney at our firm. We offer a free initial consultation to help you get started and handle auto defect cases on a contingent fee basis, meaning you pay no legal fees unless we win your case. Call today!