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G.M. Refuses to Recall Trucks With Corrosion-Related Brake Failures

The troubled automaker General Motors has been under great scrutiny recently for its failed ignition switches and other persisting safety problems.  Over 25 million vehicles have been recalled so far, but G.M. has declined to recall another estimated 1.8 million full-size pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) from 1999 to 2003.  The main issue is corrosion-related brake failure, which the car company claims stems from a lack of routine maintenance.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been investigating the brake failure since 2010, receiving several complaints from SUV owners reporting close calls of nearly crashing into other vehicles.

Auto manufacturers owe a duty to owners in Pennsylvania and across the United States to provide products that are safe for their consumers.  When a manufacturer of any product breaches this duty to provide a safe product or warn about potential harm it may cause, the manufacturer may be held liable for the injuries incurred.  If a driver, passenger, or pedestrian is injured due to a defective car, it must be shown that the product was not only defective, but designed in a way that created unreasonable danger to the user when manufactured correctly. The vehicle must also be used in a manner either intended or anticipated by the product’s manufacturers and suppliers.  

It is particularly troubling that G.M. refuses to issue a recall of the vehicle because SUVs are more likely to roll over in an accident and cause severe injuries and death.  According to the NHTSA, rollover accidents make up 20% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents.  85% of these deaths only involved people in the car that rolled over.  SUV rollovers also have a higher potential to cause catastrophic injury to the head and neck, leading to permanent brain damage or paralysis. 

G.M. claims that the issue is an industrywide problem, and points to the owners’ manual that urges owners to have brake lines inspected as frequently as brake pads.  However, another car manufacturer, Subaru, has issued a recall for the same problem.  More than 600,000 Subaru vehicles were recalled due to concern that the brake lines were subject to perforation after exposure to seven or more winter seasons.  Subaru issued the recall voluntarily and was not under investigation.  In contrast, the NHTSA upgraded its investigation of G.M. in 2011 to an engineering analysis after several complaints came in from owners in states with heavy winters.  The investigation is ongoing, even though the agency had originally set a deadline of 12 months.

G.M.’s refusal to recall the pick-ups and SUVs highlights the variety of issues that may need to be addressed in a Pennsylvania auto accident injury case.  When an auto accident occurs, a driver’s negligence may not be the only cause for blame.  Auto manufacturers may also be held accountable if they issue a defective product that leads to injury.  The attorneys at Needle Law Firm have the personal injury experience and knowledge you need to aggressively litigate your case, maximizing the damages you deserve.  For a free, confidential consultation call today at 570-344-1266.

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