The Justice Department has reached a $900 million settlement with General Motors over the issue of faulty ignition switches.
GM was being investigated for not checking millions of cars, despite staff knowing for more than a decade about the defect.
The fault has been linked to more than 100 confirmed deaths.
It could shut down engines, disable power-assisted steering and brakes and prevent airbags working.
GM has admitted it did not alert regulators and the public, failing to issue a timely recall of vehicles.
The DoJ has agreed not to seek a conviction in exchange for the settlement and the appointment of an independent monitor at the company.
However, the US Attorney’s Office did say that GM “admits that it failed to disclose a safety defect to NHTSA [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] and misled US consumers about that same defect”.
The settlement was disclosed in papers filed on September 17 at a Manhattan federal court.
General Motors, the largest carmaker in the US, did not begin recalling some 2.6 million cars worldwide until February 2014, after years of avoiding any acknowledgement of the problem.
This quickly ballooned to nearly 30 million cars by the end of 2014, as the company began actively recalling any cars that could possibly have defects.
It also set up a claims fund to compensate victims who could prove they suffered harm as a result of the defect.
GM filed for bankruptcy in 2009 during the height of the financial crisis.
The carmaker’s boss, Mary Barra, who took over in January 2014, is keen to show she has changed the culture within the company.
Previously Mary Barra has said that GM engineers, managers and workers know they must come forward once a problem has been identified or they will be held responsible.
General Motors is regretting a bad settlement, again.
From the Associated Press:
“For more than a year, a lawsuit filed by Brooke Melton’s family has caused major migraines for General Motors. Litigation over the 29-year-old nurse’s death was settled by GM last October. But not before it laid bare how the company allowed millions of small cars to stay on the road more than a decade after GM discovered ignition-switch flaws linked to at least 13 fatalities.”
The legal team representing the late Ms. Melton and her family is trying to re-open the case due to negligence and a possible cover up by GM.
So upon getting into a serious car accident there are a lot of different concerns at play and most of these are medical and financial. Being unable to perform at work due to serious injury is something that the driver at fault should be liable for. Typically the other driver’s insurance coverage is going to be put forward to cover these costs, but in some situations the insurance company will put up a fight. Being able to receive compensation in a situation like this will help out a great deal in order to make sure life returns to normal. Costs such as physical therapy and other medical bills are all things that are typically covered by the insurance coverage of the other driver.
An attorney will be able to advise an accident victim about what sort of compensation they might be able to receive. Knowing when to settle and when to push forward is the job of an experienced civil litigation attorney, because they will have settled numerous, similar cases in the past. Of course no one knows what the outcome will be should a given case go to trial, and this is where the advice of an attorney can be especially invaluable. Most of the time civil litigation lawsuits involving a car accident are going to be settled out of court, because going to trial opens up the possibility of a larger settlement for the victim. This fact is not lost on the defense, who will find car accident statistics from TennandTenn.com very useful. As the site suggests, just in the state of New Hampshire where the firm operates, car accidents account for over $140 million in lost wages alone; every single year.
Asking several attorney’s to provide you with the most conservative course of action available will help to avoid the dangers of receiving no settlement at all. Of course, there will be certain instances where the other side is not willing to cooperate, and in these situations it could be necessary to go to trial. Going to trial can be very intimidating for some people out there, but if it is the only way to receive compensation, then it could be the last option available. Always make sure to be honest with your attorney prior to going to trial though, because they need to be prepared for any surprises that may occur. A qualified, experienced settlement attorney having an accurate picture of the situation is the best way to give yourself a solid chance at winning after deciding to go to trial.
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