General Motors has announced that is recalling more than 600,000 compact cars in the United States because of a dangerous defect involving the ignition switch. GM told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the problem with the ignition switch is to blame for at least 22 car accidents and six fatal accidents.
GM reported that a heavy keyring or jarring caused by rough terrain can cause the ignition to switch off, making a serious accident likely. Additionally, the defect can also cause the air bags not to deploy, making the situation even more dangerous. GM said it knows of 11 accidents -- five front-impact collisions and six fatalities -- in which the vehicles' airbags did not deploy.
A total of 619,122 vehicles are being recalled in the U.S., including Chevrolet Cobalts in model years 2005 to 2007, and 2007-model Pontiac G5s. Both of these models have been discontinued.
GM said local auto dealers will replace the ignition switch in the recalled vehicles, and until then, GM has warned drivers to take all non-essential items off of their keyrings until the repair is made.
Because many accidents have already resulted from the defective auto part, it is possible that GM could face liability in personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. Car manufacturers have a duty to provide vehicles that protect drivers in the event of crashes -- not cause them.
Automotive product liability lawsuits not only provide car accident victims with the compensation they deserve, but also encourage auto manufacturers to make safety the No. 1 priority when designing vehicles.