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Death toll from alleged GM automobile design defect hits 57

Texas readers of this blog may have heard about an allegedly dangerous defect in the ignition switches of some General Motors vehicles. GM has allegedly been aware of the defect for more than ten years. The switches are installed on about 2.6 million vehicles worldwide, primarily on small cars including the Chevrolet Cobalt. The alleged problem with the switches is that they can move out of the "on" position on their own, causing the car to stall and disabling the air bags and power steering.

GM issued a product recall of the affected vehicles in 2014. It also set up a $400 million compensation fund for victims and their families. Those who accept payments from the fund do so on the condition they waive their right to sue GM. As of February 20, the fund had received 479 claims for deaths and 3,866 for injuries. Ninety-four of the injury claims have been approved, and last week the fund approved the 57th death claim. The fund has paid out about $93 million in total claims so far, and GM has acknowledged it may have to increase the size of the fund from $400 million to $600 million. The automaker is also facing 104 personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits related to the allegedly defective ignition switches.

Those who are injured by automobile design defects have the right to sue the manufacturer under the legal theory of product liability. Those who have had a family member killed by a defective auto design may have the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Victims and family members can learn more about their options by consulting an experienced product liability attorney.

Source: The Guardian, "General Motors death toll rises to 57 in crashes linked to faulty ignition switch," Feb. 23, 2015

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