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GM files indicate a failure to investigate signs of fatal defect

Nashville car owners often place their families' lives in the hands of vehicle manufacturers, trusting that these cars are a safe means of transporting their loved ones. If it is discovered that a line of vehicles was allowed to stay in circulation despite a deadly defect, consumers and federal agencies often call for investigations to determine why the issue was not identified and resolved earlier.

According to files provided by General Motors, the car manufacturer did not appropriately respond to numerous complaints regarding the improper deployment of airbags and vehicle stalls in their Saturn Ions and Cobalts. In total, these files link 37 fatalities to these vehicles.

Among the complaints were those from rental car companies, which pressed GM after several customers died while driving the manufacturer's cars. In one complaint, a claims adjuster asked for an inspection for defects in a Chevrolet Cobalt after reviewing a fatal accident that occurred without obvious cause and in good traffic and weather conditions.

The legal ramifications of the company's failure to address warning signs have not yet been determined. The company has altered its engineering and legal departments, and new federal legislation may be passed as a result of the defects and their handling. Reports do not comment on the state of any wrongful death litigation that may have stemmed from these defective vehicles.

Sometimes a dangerous product is identified and addressed quickly enough to avoid injuries. When it is revealed that a defective product was allowed to remain on the market--and in fact caused numerous consumer deaths--serious legal ramifications may result. If someone in your family suffered a death as a result of a defective product, you may want to discuss your situation with an attorney, as a wrongful death lawsuit may be a possibility.

Source: stltoday.com, "Rental-car companies pushed GM on fatal crashes before recall," Jeff Plungis and Tim Higgins, July 31, 2014 

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