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Delayed car recall linked to 13 car accident fatalities

Car recalls can be the result of a relatively minor part malfunction or of deadly accidents involving defective vehicles. Agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are responsible for tracking these patterns as they are reported by car owners. The manufacturers are also responsible for reporting any complaints that they receive from consumers. But a series of reports over the last several years have only recently become the focus of a serious investigation by the NHTSA and General Motors, the manufacturer of the allegedly defective car. Some of the reports involve vehicle accidents, and in one case a Pennsylvania woman was killed. 

The alleged defect involves an ignition switch problem which causes the cars to stall, some at high speeds, in heavy traffic and even on railroad tracks. The stalls have also caused air bags to be disabled. When announcing the recall, GM admitted that the defect could have caused 13 deaths.

The Pennsylvania driver was a 21-year-old woman who was killed in a single-vehicle car crash. Her mother said that GM sent three people to the scene to investigate the auto accident. The crew took the vehicle's black box and, despite the mother's repeated requests, GM has declined to return it. Another mother, who had leased a car for her daughter, reported several stalling incidents to the company but doesn't recall getting a response. She ended up terminating the lease, even though she had to pay thousands of dollars to get her daughter out of what she called a "death trap."

While minor consequences stemming from car defects are sometimes the subject of products liability lawsuits, it is also possible for people to hold auto manufacturers accountable when defective auto parts cause serious car accidents. Those who have been involved in an accident caused by a suspected car defect may be entitled for compensation for their losses.

Source: The New York Times, "Auto Regulators Dismissed Defect Tied to 13 Deaths," Hilary Stout, Danielle Ivory and Matthew L. Wald, March 8, 2014

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