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303 Fatalities Linked to Failed Air Bags In Recalled General Motors Cars

Just week after General Motors announced that it was doubling the amount of cars it was recalling over faulty ignition switches that had been linked to 13 deaths, a new review of federal information is showing that there have been at least 303 fatalities involving air bags that didn’t inflate on two of the models recalled. The automaker is recalling 1.4 million vehicles in the US alone, including Pontiac G5s and Chevrolet Cobalts (’05, ’06, and ’07 models) and Chevrolet HHR SUVs, Pontiac Solstices, and Saturn Sky Cars ([06, ’07 models) and Saturn Ions (’03, ’04, ’05, ’06, and ’07 models). The air bag deaths occurred in Ions and Cobalts.

If you were injured in car crash involving a GM vehicle (or any other auto) that had air bags that failed to deploy or because the ignition switch failed, please contact our Boston auto defects law firm today. Altman & Altman LLP represents victims and their families against automakers and others in wrongful death cases, auto products liability lawsuits, air bag cases, and other types of injury claims.

The GM recall was over ignition switches at risk of moving from “run” position to off, which could shut down the engine and the electrical power. The problem seemed to arise if the driver’s key chain is too heavy or the roads are extremely rough. The shutting down of the power may also turn off the power brakes, power steering, and deactivate the air bags.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into whether GM broke regulatory requirements by purposely delaying when it made the safety issue known. By law, car manufacturers have five days to tell NHTSA about an auto problem after its discovery. Yesterday, GM admitted that it knew about the ignition issue as early as 2001.

The Friedman Research Corporation, which conducted the study, is reporting that these air bag failures took place between 2003 and 2012. All 303 victims were sitting in the front seats, where the air bags are, and were killed in Ions and Cobalts during non-rear impact collisions. In every car crash the air bags did not deploy. The Center for Auto Safety, which commissioned the study, wants to know why NHTSA failed to identify these air bag failures.

303 Deaths Seen in G.M. Cars With Failed Air Bags, The New York Times, March 13, 2014
GM Now Says It Detected Ignition Switch Problem Back in 2001, The Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2014

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