A 21-year-old driving a 2004 Saturn Ion was involved in a motor vehicle collision when her car veered off the road and slammed into a tree. The car’s air bags did not deploy, and the woman was severely injured.
Her 25-year-old fiancé, a passenger in the car at the time of the accident, did not survive. The driver later pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from the accident.
That was eight years ago. She says not a day passed that she wasn’t wracked with guilt for what happened.
But now, she has been pardoned. General Motors wrote a letter to indicate that her crash may have been caused by a faulty ignition switch in her vehicle. GM has now recalled cars with faulty ignition switches, but did not alert the public to the risk that these vehicles presented even though it knew of the issue for years.
The criminal prosecution of the woman and the fact that the GM defect was not discovered for so many years shows how essential it is for a thorough investigation to be conducted after a crash. A Boston car accident lawyer recognizes identifying the cause of a collision is important both because a driver may be criminally prosecuted for violation of traffic laws, as well as civilly liable and responsible to pay for resulting damages.
But it’s important to get the facts right.
Thorough Investigation After Every Crash
In this case, there was no clear explanation at the time as to how the accident happened. The driver was charged with criminally negligent homicide because it was assumed she had done something wrong or careless to cause the car to suddenly veer off the road. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years of probation and 260 hours of community service. She also paid court costs and covered the costs of her fiancé’s funeral.
According to WDHD, GM “knew this defect caused this death,” but did not alert the judge in the case, regulators or anyone in the public about the fact that some of its cars had faulty ignition switches. The problem with the ignition switch could cause the car to turn off suddenly when the switch slipped out of the “run” position. This would result in the engine stalling, the power steering being disabled, the brakes no longer working and the air bags no longer working.
It is the responsibility of car manufacturers to make sure they don’t release dangerous products and to alert the public and initiate a recall if it turns out there is a problem with a vehicle on the market. GM did not do this. In fact, the company did not recall vehicles with defective ignition switches until February of 2014, which left many of the potentially defective cars on the market for decades.
The car company should have come forward sooner and a thorough investigation should have raised questions about how this accident happened so the true cause could have been determined and the right parties held responsible.
Given that the crash cost this woman so much, she may be on solid legal footing to file her own civil injury lawsuit against the company.
If you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.
More Blog Entries
Floyd-Tunnell v. Shelter Mut. Ins. Co. Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Stacking, July 3, 2014, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog