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GM may have ignored warnings that could have prevented deaths

People in DuPage County, Illinois, may have heard about the widely reported recall by General Motors started in February 2014 due to faulty ignition switches causing a range of dangerous issues. Yet, a series of accidents that were purportedly caused by the switches had been reported to the automaker from rental car companies years ago.

One car accident killed the parents of a teenage girl and left her with brain damage. The mother had been driving a Saturn Ion on a rural road when she lost control. An on-scene police officer reported that the vehicle had experienced faulty steering and braking, issues linked to the faulty switches. Another accident led to the death of a driver who had rented a Chevrolet Cobalt in 2006. The sedan drifted across lanes and onto a median before rolling over. The air bag did not deploy. An investigator for Vanguard Car Rental USA reportedly notified GM about the fatal accident and suggested the company investigate even though the cause of the accident had not been determined.

Enterprise had also contacted GM about air bags not deploying in Cobalts. According to police reports, transcripts from customer service calls and other documents, Enterprise had been pressing the issue with GM for years. Files show communications between GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration starting in 2005 regarding issues with air bags and cars stalling. Thirty-seven people who had died in accidents involving an Ion or Cobalt were mentioned in the files.

In the aftermath of an auto accident, people often face difficulties getting insurance companies and other responsible parties to pay. Dealing with claims to cover medical costs, lost wages and other expenses while recovering can be stressful, but an attorney could help by negotiating on behalf of clients and fighting for a timely and fair settlement.

Source: St. Louis Today, "Rental-car companies pushed GM on fatal crashes before recall", Jeff Plungis and Tim Higgins , July 31, 2014

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