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General Motors' Defective Ignition Switch May Have Caused 100 Car Accident Deaths

Mellino Law Firm

August 25, 2014, USA Today reported that 100 people have filed death claim applications with GM since the filing period began August 1. Another 184 people submitted injury claims.

“The numbers do not necessarily reflect the number of victims legitimately affected by the ignition-switch defect, which lingered for more than a decade before GM finally ordered a recall in February,” the article stated. As USA Today said in February, the defect “inadvertently shut off the engine while driving … [and] cut off the driver’s power steering and brakes, as well as safety systems such as airbags and anti-lock brakes.”

Like personal injury lawsuits, claimants must prove that the faulty ignition switch caused the injury or death, Auto Blog said.

Those who file a claim should expect a three- to four-month delay in payment as GM’s compensation administrator determines who gets how much. For instance, injury claims will be paid according to severity, and death claims will be settled for at least $1 million, per CNN.

“The automaker will give another $300,000 for each surviving spouse and dependent, in addition to a sum of money that will be determined by the victims’ earning potential,” CNN said.

Those who accept GM’s settlement offer waive their right to file a lawsuit.

Determining Liability in the Wrongful Death Lawsuits Against GM

March 25, 2014, newsday.com reported that a retired Delphi Automotive employee filed a wrongful death claim against GM because his daughter was killed when the ignition switch failed in her 2006 Cobalt. According to the article, the car lost power, became uncontrollable, and veered into oncoming traffic. The driver hit a semi and was killed instantly.

Delphi Automotive made the defective ignition switches.

“In 2002, when automotive supplier Delphi began shipping the ignition switches to General Motors that are now being blamed for at least 13 fatal crashes, relations between the automaker and its former parts subsidiary were among the worst in the history of the automobile industry,” said detroitnews.com in April. “Three years earlier, GM had spun off Delphi in a bid to capitalize on the then-lucrative initial public offering market, but Delphi remained heavily dependent on GM’s business and was having trouble attracting new customers.”

Consequently, Delphi was forced to lower costs, and the quality of the parts suffered. Rather than slow down the assembly line, General Motors allegedly accepted the subpar parts. But “the automaker takes entire responsibility for a poorly designed small-car ignition switch linked to a number of motorist deaths and injuries, likely removing scrutiny of the part supplier in the case,” Wards Auto said July 17.

During ignition switch hearings on Capitol Hill, Sen. Dean Heller reportedly asked Delphi CEO Rodney O’Neal whether he felt his company was liable for the accidents. When he said no, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said in Delphi’s defense, “We’re the OEM. We’re the company that’s responsible to integrate the parts into the vehicle, so it’s our responsibility.”

If you have questions about liability in your GM accident, our personal injury and wrongful death lawyers invite you to contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation.

Why Should I Trust Attorney Chris Mellino to Handle My GM Lawsuit?

First, Mellino Law Firm does not advertise. Attorneys and satisfied clients send us the majority of our cases. Others find us online.

Second, Chris Mellino is respected throughout northeast Ohio for his ability to dig below the surface to make sure no fact is overlooked. In fact, Chris has litigated several landmark cases, including Moskovitz v. Mt. Sinai Medical Center (1994) and Watkins_v._Cleveland_Clinic_Foundation (1998). In the latter, he and his previous partner were awarded the largest verdict in the state that year.

Third, many personal injury and wrongful death lawyers take every claim that walks in their door, pass clients off on “case managers,” neglect to return calls, and then settle the claim for the first amount the defendant offers. Since claims are time consuming and labor intensive, we’re selective about the cases we accept. This enables us to give each one the attention it deserves.

Also, since 2010, Mellino Law Firm has been the only personal injury law firm in Cleveland to be accepted into Primerus, which screens potential members by speaking to judges, other lawyers, bar associations, clients, and insurance carriers about a firm’s integrity, work product, fee structure, education, civility, and community service.

If you were injured or a loved one died due to General Motors’ defective ignition switch, attorney Chris Mellino welcomes you to contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation.

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