Louisiana owners of General Motors’ automobiles may be interested in a recent report that states rental companies told GM about potential defects as much as a decade prior to the 2014 recall. Among the problems reported, both Vanguard and Enterprise told GM about fatal Cobalt crashes where the airbags did not deploy. Files obtained by the report appear to show that GM knew about certain safety issues long before they took action.
Rental car companies used a large number of Cobalts because the cars were popular and inexpensive. However, manufacturing defects in the Cobalt have been blamed for stalling, sudden loss of braking and steering and inoperative airbags. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also been in the hot seat for allegedly ignoring warning signs and failing to open an investigation into the potential flaws in both 2007 and 2010.
According to the NHTSA’s acting administrator, GM may have known about safety defects, which the company reportedly hid from investigators, for several years. The former director of Dollar Thrifty says that the warnings from rental car companies should have acted as red flags to GM because rental cars are much like a test fleet.
Auto manufacturers have a duty to the public to make sure their automobiles are safe and free from defects. However, when a defect is discovered, carmakers are obligated to let the public know and to correct the issue as soon as possible. If a manufacturing defect leads to car accident that involves injuries or death, victims or their families may be able to seek compensation by filing a civil lawsuit. Anyone considering such an action might want to speak with a lawyer before proceeding.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Rental-car companies pushed GM on fatal crashes before recall“, Jeff Plungis and Tim Higgins, July 31, 2014