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Cars recalled after defective part causes 13 deaths

When you drive your car, you trust that the manufacturer has put the vehicle through its paces. You assume safety teams have run tests, revealing any major safety flaws that could cause a car accident. But a recent spate of recalls has started to cast doubt on those assumptions.

You may have already seen the headlines – GM, one of the world’s largest car manufacturers, is recalling 2.6 million vehicles to repair defective ignition switches. The switches were found to shut the engine off – while it’s in motion – if the keychain were too heavy or, say, the driver grazed the key with a knee. With the engine shut off, the car’s computer doesn’t have the reserve power to make the calculations necessary to determine whether or not to deploy the airbags. GM cars come with about 150 milliseconds, or 0.15 seconds of reserve power.

It’s unclear how long GM has known about the problem, but regulators have determined that the faulty switch has been the cause of at least 13 deaths, including one awful accident in 2006.

In that crash, a Chevrolet Cobalt’s airbags failed to deploy after hitting a tree at 71 mph. Two passengers were killed and the driver was seriously injured. Investigators later found that the ignition was in the “accessory” position. Had the ignition switch not failed, the air bags would have deployed the accident may have ended differently.

Any Washington resident who has been injured in an auto accident caused by a defective auto part may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer. A Washington personal injury attorney might be able to help you fight for compensation to recover medical expenses, lost wages and any pain and suffering the accident may have caused.

Source: usatoday.com, “GM recall shows how airbags don't always work,” Dee-Ann Durbin, May 13, 2014

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