The number of deaths linked to the faulty ignition switches in eight small car models that General Motors Co. sold a decade ago may surge, according to lawyers and safety advocates. Carmakers typically raise the number of fatalities related to recalls as they discover new information, with attorneys racing to secure plaintiffs seeking compensation for alleged wrongful deaths or injury.
GM’s liabilities might rise as lawyers and safety advocates press the carmaker to pay restitution to victims even from before its bankruptcy reorganization in 2009, which should protect the new GM from the old GM’s liabilities. GM has already identified 12 deaths linked to recall of 1.6 million Chevrolet, Opel, Pontiac and Saturn models, has said it continues to review data and information.
“For every incident that gets reported to the automaker, there are usually nine or 10 more,” said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, a consumer advocacy group. “You can expect the number of deaths associated with this recall to rise.”
Similar thing occurred to Toyota Motor Corp. the number of fatalities the government linked to 10 million recalled Toyota and Lexus models surged from a handful to at least 59. Further wrongful-death lawsuits were filed since the Congressional hearings ended.
The GM recall and U.S. investigations linked to it come as the carmaker try to peel off the “Government Motors” stigma connected to its $49.5 billion U.S. bailout. The U.S. already sold its last GM shares in December 2013, GM has appointed Mary Barra as chief executive. GM has launched new vehicles that helped improve its reputation among consumers and boosted quality to record levels. [source: Bloomberg]