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Documents indicate GM might have known about defect for years

Tennessee drivers might be interested to learn that General Motors may have hid evidence of a serious safety defect from government investigators, according to information from a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official. While GM did initiate a well-publicized recall in early 2014, the automaker reportedly began receiving alerts about potentially fatal defects in their vehicles from rental-car companies more than seven years ago. That is when companies like Vantage and Enterprise began noting abnormal motor vehicle accidents linked to air bag defects and faulty ignition switches in the GM vehicles, according to recently released documents.

The flaw in the ignition switches was allegedly found in a number of GM models. In 2005, a woman driving an Ion that she rented from a Texas Enterprise lost control due to an alleged defect in the steering and braking. The driver and one passenger were killed, and a third passenger suffered brain damage. Following the event, Enterprise reportedly requested GM to perform an investigation into the potential defects. Similar accidents prompted other rental-car companies to raise concern with GM about potential manufacturing error.

Whether GM followed up with investigations to some of the specific incidents is not clear. A representative for the company did not comment on specific cases but did say that GM has changed how it manages concerns about potential safety issues received from rental-car companies. GM reportedly established a new department within the company to address safety issues and improve communication with rental-car companies.

People who are injured in auto accidents that were not their fault are usually entitled to compensation that could help them move forward with their lives. Family members of victims killed due to vehicle malfunctions may also be able to submit a claim. An attorney could offer assistance by filling claims and negotiating for a settlement. If necessary, an attorney could fight for full recompense in court to ensure clients get what they need to cover medical treatment, property damage and other expenses.

Source: St. Louis Today, "Rental-car companies pushed GM on fatal crashes before recall", Jeff Plungis and Tim Higgins, July 31, 2014

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