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Personal Injury · Wrongful Death · Medical Malpractice

What the GM Recall Means to Florida Owners

General Motors is facing some tough questions, as government officials address the recent recall of more than two million GM vehicles. According to a recent reports, 32 vehicle accidents and 13 deaths are linked to a faulty ignition switch. The tragic case is a reminder of the various causes of Florida car accidents. Even when all travelers exercise caution, problems with the vehicle itself can lead to serious injuries.

The Recall

In February of 2014, GM announced the recall of 1.6 million vehicles to replace the switch. In March, that number increased by a million. Affected vehicle owners will reportedly receive letters when replacement switches are in stock at their local dealership. They can then schedule an appointment to go in and have the repairs completed. GM is working to complete the repairs by the end of October. However, there are already reports of part shortages, with the company urging manufacturers to increase production.

Last week, a congressional hearing was convened to question GM leaders about the recall. They were asked about their original knowledge of the defect and what was done in response. GM reportedly made changes to the design of the switches in 2006. However, they did not change the part number, which is the normal course of business when parts are altered. According to an article in the Huffington Post, one congressional committee member called GM’s actions a “criminal deception.”

The Call for Criminal Accountability

United States Senator Claire McCaskill served as chairwoman of the GM Senate subcommittee. At the conclusion of the hearing, she reportedly called for criminal actions against GM. In support of her argument, she referenced a Supreme Court case, where corporations were treated as people. Senator McCaskill reportedly concluded, “if in fact they are people, there needs to be some criminal accountability depending on what the facts of the investigation show.”

Corporate criminal liability means that the government can bring criminal charges against the corporation. Of course, a company cannot go to jail. However, key decision makers and employees can face incarceration for criminal actions within the scope of their employment. The corporation can be punished through fines and sanctions by the government.

Recourse for Florida GM Owners

GM managers met with a victim’s compensation lawyer to consider its civil liability and options. When corporations are facing this level of possible liability, they often create a victim compensation fund to provide monetary assistance for victims and their families. These funds generally cover expenses related to the injury, such as health care, lost wages and funeral expenses. In order to access these funds, injured parties must file an application and gain approval for compensation.

Florida residents with injuries stemming from the faulty ignition switch, may apply for compensation under any victim fund. If GM does not ultimately create the fund, an injured party may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the corporation. Vehicle owners with no physical injuries may also have a claim. This type of case often leads to a class action lawsuit. Florida residents can join any possible class action suits if the terms are applicable to their individual situation. To determine your best course of action against GM, it is important to contact a Florida lawyer who is experienced in car accidents, personal injury and product liability.

If you or a loved one has been negatively affected by the faulty GM ignition switch, contactthe Miami based legal team at Pita and Del Prado for knowledgeable guidance and aggressive representation. Call (888) 670-8060 today for a free consultation.  

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