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Car defects may result in false convictions

As Pennsylvania motorists know, General Motors has recalled a record number of vehicles due to a faulty ignition switch. While serious accidents, some of which have caused fatalities, have occurred, other issues are recently coming to light. Drivers whose GM vehicles stalled were charged with crimes when accidents killed other drivers and passengers. It is only recently that judges are addressing this issue.

Some of the recalled vehicles were in use for 10 years, and at least 64 million motor vehicles have been recalled. Four convictions related to the GM defect have been challenged and more are expected. One such situation involved a woman who was in her twenties at the time of the accident. She had a minor with her in the car. The car allegedly froze, losing brakes and steering, and the airbags did not deploy. She was accused of speeding but denied the charges. Her mother encouraged her to plead guilty. She was sentenced to up to two years in jail and served 90 days.

The woman petitioned a GM created fund and received an undisclosed payout. Her lawyer received a letter from GM saying the faulty ignition switch might have caused the airbags to not deploy in her vehicle. GM refused to say if the ignition switch defect caused the woman's accident that killed a passenger. She was originally charged with reckless driving and involuntary manslaughter. At the end of August, the judge removed her plea of guilty. Prosecutors are appealing, and her lawyer is petitioning the court to declare her innocent.

Defective parts may cause an auto accident, as is now becoming apparent. An attorney for an injured victim of such an accident can review the police investigation report and other evidence in order to determine the parties that should bear responsibility for the damages that have been incurred.

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Gregory R. Gifford
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