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Nicoletti Walker Law Group Oct. 5, 2016

On September 5th, General Motors announced that it had settled the last two “bellwether” cases that were linked to the faulty ignition switch which caused close to 125 deaths and almost 300 injuries. These particular settlements stemmed from various cases filed in different states but consolidated in federal court, all of which were filed after individuals were severely injured in car crashes linked to the defect.

Specifically, the issue with the ignition switch–what might appear to be a simple problem–has led to some complex catastrophes: the ignition switch can slip out of place, causing the engine to stall and cut off all power to the brakes, airbag systems, and steering. Although it led to the recall of over 2.5 million vehicles two years ago, as with all recalls, some individual vehicles end up falling through the cracks and never being fixed, leading to numerous injuries and sometimes even death.

Billions in Settlement and Victims’ Funds

To date, General Motors has paid out approximately $2 billion in civil and criminal penalties and settlements due to the switch, which, apparently, some of its employees were aware of for years prior to the recall. In fact, one news source indicated that some at General Motors knew about the problems with the switches for more than decade before it finally recalled the various vehicles worldwide to replace them. This is separate from the close to $600 million fund that was paid out to surviving victims and families of those who had died in accidents caused by the defective switches.

Other Cases Move Forward

This latest settlement has also made it clear that General Motors is eager to resolve any and all of the cases that arise out of issues linked to the faulty ignition switches. However, several of the cases are still scheduled to go to trial next year, resulting in either jury verdicts or additional settlements. Perhaps this comes as no surprise, as this issue has resulted in one of the single biggest multidistrict litigations to be resolved in only two years, arguably in part due to Judge Furman’s insistence that the parties keep an “aggressive” pace. Thus far, General Motors staffers have reportedly reviewed over 4,300 claims filed after August 1, 2014.

Reach out To an Attorney Who Cares

The roads are dangerous enough without also having to be concerned that a defective auto part could lead to severe accidents, injuries, and death. Clearwater attorney Mike Walker understands all of the frustration and fear that accompanies any kind of car accident, especially in trying to figure out where the fault lies. If you’ve been injured in an accident in Florida potentially linked to the defective ignition switch issue, he can help. Contact the office today for a free consultation.