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Ohio teacher's death tied to faulty ignition switch in GM recall

Anyone who has had to cope with the death of a loved one in a car accident understands the sense of helplessness and grief that follows the tragedy. But when the death is one of a pattern caused by defects known to the manufacturer, the term accident can seem to some as being used loosely.

If the manufacturer knew of the defect and failed to warn the owners of the affected vehicles, the negligence of the manufacturer can lead to wrongful death suits by the survivors of those killed.

A Congressional committee is now studying the situation surrounding the deaths and injuries that occurred in certain cars manufactured by General Motors. While GM just issued a recall notice earlier this year, the allegations of accidents involving the vehicles began almost a decade ago.

Statistics show that 13 deaths and at least 31 accidents have been linked to faulty ignition switches in the vehicles. One of those killed was a 42-year-old teacher from Ohio whose 2005 Cobalt ran off the road, running through a sign post and a guard rail, and hitting two trees at speeds of up to 75 miles per hour.

Records show that the primary defect was a faulty ignition that would switch the vehicle into accessory mode without warning. Because this shut off the engine, power steering was disabled long with safety features like air bags that might otherwise have saved the lives of those in the vehicle. With no power, the black box in the cars was also disabled, so no data was recorded as the crashes happened.

As the investigation continues, the families of those killed, as well as those who survived with serious injuries, may be seek compensation from GM for pain and suffering, medical expenses and other damages.

While the failure of GM to notify the public of the defect before lives were lost is particularly heinous, accidents happen every day that involve wrongful death caused by another driver or, as in this case, a manufacturer. An attorney whose practice involves personal injury cases should be able to help pursue damages for the injuries inflicted in these accidents.

Source: Detroit News, "As victims are identified in crashes tied to GM recall, families want info," Christine Macdonald, Jim Lynch and Melissa Burden, April 18, 2014

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