California residents have probably heard about the General Motors recall of many vehicles that could have defective ignition switches, but some may be unaware of how these recalls might influence the legal system. Several past criminal cases are being looked at in light of the new knowledge of the problem.
In one case, a 25-year-old woman previously spent three months in jail for a one-to-two year sentence when losing control of her Chevrolet Cobalt in 2010, which resulted in the death of a 16-year-old male passenger. The authorities thought she was speeding, but the woman said that she was not and that the brakes and vehicle stopped working. The Chevrolet's ignition went into the accessory position, and there was no power for steering or braking. Additionally, the airbags did not deploy when a crash occurred. Instances like this sounded unbelievable before the news about faulty ignition switches, and the woman pleaded guilty to reckless driving and involuntary manslaughter.
The woman's guilty plea was erased due to new evidence in August 2015, but this story highlights what some have gone through after unexplained accidents happened that now make sense due to vehicle recalls. GM knew about the ignition switch problem before issuing a public notice, and the company has created a fund to compensate those who suffered because of the defective ignition switches.
In typical motor vehicle accident cases, injured victims might seek damages from a driver on the basis of negligence. However, if it can be shown that a defective part was the proximate cause of the accident, a personal injury attorney may deem it advisable to file a lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer itself.
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