GM and NHTSA Failed to Identify Defects
Bloomberg reported on July 31, 2014 that General Motors(GM) may have received advanced notice about defects in GM cars as early as 2006. Bloomberg reporters filed a Freedom of Information Request against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to gather documents related to the plethora of GM recalls.
Bloomberg’s reports that the documents demonstrate a consistent set of warnings and requests initiated by car rental companies imploring GM to investigate and explain car accidents where the airbags failed to deploy.
In 2006, a Vanguard Alamo rental company in California rented a Chevrolet Cobalt to a customer who was later involved in a fatal accident. The customer was wearing a seatbelt, but died because the airbag failed to deploy. In response to the fatality, Vanguard insurance adjusters asked GM via letter to investigate potential defects in the Cobalt citing the failure of the airbag to deploy.
Other companies such as Enterprise Holdings Inc., also informed GM of defective cars and requested that the auto giant investigate. Bloomberg reporters combed through conversations and correspondence between various car rental companies and officials at GM and identified numerous instances where GM received early warnings about what would later be revealed as systematic defects.
GM declined to issue recalls, according to report, because the company believed the incidents were unrelated in did not reveal a pattern. In addition to failures at GM there may have been related oversight failures at the NHTSA. The regulatory agency failed to review all of the GM complaints and identify that there was a pattern of airbag failure and consistent ignition switch issues.
As GM’s recalls continue, there will be questions about how much the company really knew about the defects and why it failed to act. If you or someone you know has been hurt in a GM vehicle, call the car accident lawyers at Peterson & Associates, P.C.