GM recalls highlight threat posed by automobile defects

General Motors has issued recall notices for several models of cars, trucks, and SUVs, once again demonstrating the hazards caused by products that are placed on the market with either a design or manufacturing defect. In North Carolina, the manufacturer of a defective vehicle can be held liable for all injuries and resulting damages caused by such a defect. These are called “product liability” claims.

In the past month, GM has issued recall notices for 4.8 million vehicles, including several of its most popular models, such as the Chevrolet Silverado, the GMC Sierra 1500 Pickup truck, the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL. These recalls are not just an engineering mea culpa, they show the risk faced by customers who purchase vehicles with these defects. Most of the recalls concern a problem with the ignition system that causes the automobile to stall and disables the airbag and power steering systems. Other defects leading to recalls involve leaking transmission cooling lines and right front axle shafts that can fracture while the car is being driven.

Thirteen deaths have been attributed to the ignition problem alone. GM also said that it has received reports of “several dozen” axle shaft fractures, but that it was not aware of any injuries that resulted from the defect.

Persons injured by one of these conditions should seek competent legal advice. Large companies such as GM will take extreme measures to prevent information about injuries caused by manufacturing or design defects from reaching the public media. The civil legal system, however, gives plaintiffs’ attorneys in product liability lawsuits several tools that can be used to pry off the lid of secrecy.

Source: WIST-TV, “2 more recalls push GM total to 4.8M in a month,” Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin, Mar. 29, 2014