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Fatality numbers may rise as GM revises defective product data

Some might say that the news for General Motors just keeps getting worse. But in reality those getting the bad news are consumers who purchased GM vehicles with an automobile design defect. The defect, in the form of a faulty ignition, has reportedly led to the deaths of 13 people. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes that the number of fatalities is likely more than that, and GM itself this week increased its assessment of the number of frontal-impact crashes blamed on the defect from 32 to 47.

The fact that GM is not yet willing to adjust the number of fatalities is in line with the company’s behavior regarding the entire recall incident regarding the defective product. GM had knowledge of the defective auto part for over a decade before informing the public with a recall in February 2014. To date 2.6 million vehicles have been targeted by the recall. 

Including the ignition switch recall, GM has made 30 recalls just this year, affecting more vehicles than the company has sold since 2009 when it emerged from bankruptcy.

The statistics for GM do not bode well for the company’s immediate financial future. According to the company’s estimates, the amount of money that it will have to spend to make all of the repairs of the recalled vehicles essentially wipes out the company’s 2014 first quarter profits. 

GM is also paying the NHTSA’s maximum penalty of $35 million for failing to inform its customers in a timely manner about its potentially dangerous product. And the U.S. Department of Justice is considering whether to slap the company with criminal charges, as it did earlier this year with Toyota.

While GM deals with government agencies, those in Texas affected personally by the defect may want to take a second look at whether the company owes them compensation for their changed lives.

Source: CNN Money, “GM faulty ignition crashes now 47,” May 25, 2014

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