New evidence reveals that rental car companies warned General Motors Co. of three fatal car crashes in its Saturn Ion and Chevrolet Cobalt models long before any recalls were initiated. Sixty recalls and eight years later, GM is still facing accusations that it did not act promptly enough to correct problems that led to 37 fatalities since 2005.
In a Bloomberg News report dated July 31, 2014, communication between Vanguard Car Rental USA and GM regarding a fatal 2006 accident in a Chevrolet Cobalt owned by Vanguards Alamo fleet has been uncovered, and the implications are unsettling.
Documents provided to Bloomberg under the Freedom of Information Act show a claims adjuster for Vanguard contacted GM in 2006 to request they investigate the safety of the airbags in their Cobalts after a driver died when their air bag did not deploy. In this case, GM may have failed to act on the advice of Vanguard and Enterprise Holdings, Inc., which reported similar incidents in 2005 and 2006.
Bloomberg’s research also uncovered Enterprise’s customer service communications, warranty records, letters and police reports to show how fervently it pursued GM to investigate its claims, which included the 2005 fatal incidents involving possible defects with GM’s Saturn Ion and Chevrolet Cobalts.
Documents submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by GM identify 30 crashes and 37 fatalities involving Saturn Ions and Cobalts, starting as early as 2005. While GM company spokesperson Alan Alder declined to comment on the specific cases utilized in the Bloomberg report, the evidence clearly compounds GM’s history of failing to remedy numerous issues that we now know to be of great consequence.
There is no indication as to whether GM followed up with the request from Vanguard to inspect the Cobalt model in question. Alder claims GM has modified the way it handles product safety inquiries from rental car companies since that time.
GM claims its recent reorganization will improve its ability to communicate between departments and differing levels of authority. This may help it to more appropriately follow up with safety concerns like those submitted by Vanguard and Enterprise, but it is unclear what the company’s new policy is regarding the handling of these claims.
The tragic deaths of the 37 people killed in GM vehicles may not have occurred had the company acted responsibly and not in its own best interests.
If you or someone you love was hurt or killed because of a defective GM vehicle, a personal injury attorney from Goldberg Finnegan can help answer your questions about what to do next, or whether you have a claim for compensation.
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