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Defects led to convictions and jail for drivers

New Jersey motorists may be interested to learn that a recall of 2.6 million cars by GM in February 2014 has led to reversals of some convictions for which drivers in fatal accidents spent time in jail. The recalls were for defective ignition switches, a problem the company had been aware of for years but had failed to recall the vehicles.

One case out of Pennsylvania involved a young girl who gave her 16-year-old friend a ride home after school in September 2010. She claimed that her brakes and steering column suddenly stopped working when the ignition moved into the accessory position while they were traveling. This caused her to lose control of her car, and her friend was killed. The airbags did not deploy. The police claim she had been speeding, something the girl has always insisted was not true. She pleaded guilty at the encouragement of her mother and spent three months in jail.

Citing the recalled ignition switches as new evidence, a judge vacated the girl’s guilty plea. She sued GM and reached a confidential settlement. Several other cases have also been overturned, with GM in the position of settling numerous cases.

People who are seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents in which fault is not clear may want to investigate whether the vehicles had defects that might have caused them. A personal injury attorney may help with conducting such an investigation in order to determine if the car’s manufacturer should be named as a defendant in a resulting lawsuit. Through a personal injury civil lawsuit, injured victims may be able to seek and recover damages designed to compensate them for their losses.

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