As Americans, there’s an assumption that the cars we drive have been vetted for our safety, both by the manufacturers of the vehicles and the government agencies responsible for such regulation. Sadly, that’s not always the case and that makes an already dangerous endeavor even more perilous.
Take these recent General Motors ignition issues for instance. G.M. released millions of cars to the public that contained switches that would shut off suddenly, killing the engine and rendering the airbags inoperable. Investigations found that the defective part has been responsible for at least 109 deaths. G.M. was forced to pay a fine of $35 million because investigators discovered that the company’s product specialists and engineers knew about the defect. In addition, the country’s biggest automaker may be facing criminal charges for their role in the deaths and countless injuries.
In early June, federal regulators fessed up to their role in the debacle, saying they made mistakes and admitting to the fact that they missed the clues that indicated there was a problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is using the mess to rethink the way they regulate vehicles and police manufacturers in the future.
The lessons learned here come too late for the victims and their families, but it’s a wake-up call for the rest of the nation. We often think of car accidents as the fault of the other driver, but manufacturers can also be held responsible. If an attorney can prove negligence, he or she may be able to get compensation for the victims.