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Questions remain about GM's liability for fatal auto accidents

Tennessee drivers may be interested in the story of one local family dealing with the tragic death of one member that may have been caused due to a defective vehicle part. The car model that the victim was driving is now part of a large recall instituted by the carmaker.

In October 2009, a 20-year-old Tennessee man was killed in a car accident in his 2006 Chevy Cobalt, which is one of the vehicle models recalled by General Motors due to a faulty ignition switch. Reports indicate that the problem can lead to someone losing control of the vehicle if the key moves to the accessory position. The recall has been connected with 12 deaths, although some believe that more will be revealed as investigations continue.

The victim's mother says that she attempted to have the problem fixed prior to the fatal car accident, but the ignition switch still did not work correctly. She then received a notice recalling the car for a separate issue. One attorney suspects that this was a "silent recall," meaning that the company attempted to bring the car to fix the original issue under the guise of a separate problem, although there is no evidence that this took place. GM has since apologized for their failure to adequately and quickly address the issue.

A 2009 bankruptcy order from GM may complicate the legal process for families who have been affected by the defective vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation of the recall that could potentially fine GM $35 million if it reveals that the company delayed correcting the issue.

Those who have been in a car accident due to defective products may be able to hold the automaker or parts manufacturer responsible. An attorney may be able to assist those individuals through the legal process of filing a claim against the liable party.

Source: WBIR, "GM recall leaves middle TN family with unanswered questions", Shelley DuBois, March 15, 2014

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