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How a lawsuit can be effective after a fatal car accident

In a recent post, we discussed the troubling situation involving GM and a defective car part on millions of their vehicles. It has now been widely reported that the car maker released vehicles that had a faulty ignition switch that could slip out of the "on" position, which shut off the car's power steering, brakes and airbag deployment. When we discussed the issue in that post, we mentioned how many families and victims have since filed a lawsuit against GM, citing the defect.

But one lawsuit in particular highlights how effective legal action can be when it comes to uncovering negligence and publicizing the reprehensible acts of a party that knowingly put lives in danger. The case stems from the catastrophic accident of a 29-year-old woman in Georgia who was killed on her birthday when she lost control of her 2005 Chevy Cobalt after it unexpectedly shut off.

The woman brought her vehicle in to be serviced after the ignition switch failed just days before the fatal crash. The first time the ignition slipped out of the "on" position, she was able to come to a stop safely. But four days later, when the same thing happened again, she was unable to avoid a catastrophic accident.

After the crash, the woman's parents took action to work with an attorney who contacted an engineer who discovered a discrepancy between the ignition switch in the woman's car and those that were available for purchase.

The items had the same ID number, but the parts were different. This led to allegations that GM knew about the faulty switches and instead of recalling the vehicles and replacing the parts, which would have cost less than $1 per car, GM allegedly started selling the repaired products using the same ID number as the defective switches. Since this family's case, many more have been filed and cite the negligence discovered in this lawsuit.

While there is nothing that can undo a fatal accident or truly compensate those most affected by the loss, there are ways to take action and find a sense of justice and closure. This case is a strong reminder that reaching out for legal support can give families access to the help and resources they need to uncover negligence and hold parties responsible for a tragic loss accountable. 

Source: CNN, "One Last Thing: Power in the courtroom," April 4, 2014

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