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Less than half of the 2.4 million recalled General Motors (GM) vehicles have been repaired, leaving more than a million of the cars still on the road with faulty ignition switches that may prevent air bags from deploying and have been linked to dozens of deaths in recent years.
General Motors has recalled several different Chevy, Pontiac and Saturn models this year, to a risk that the vehicles may suddenly shut off if a heavy keychain is used or if the ignition os jarred, such as may occur in an accident. The problems may cause users to lose control of their vehicle or prevent the air bag from inflating, increasing the risk of serious injury or death.
The GM ignition switch recall was issued more than 10 years after the company first discovered the issue, and the automaker has already acknowledged that it is aware of at least 23 deaths that may have been caused by the defective parts. However, more than 125 families have filed wrongful death claims with a GM ignition switch recall settlement fund the company has established, suggesting the death toll could be many times higher than GM admits.
More than six months after recalling the vehicles, it appears that GM has only repaired a little more than 1 million vehicles, according to a CNN report.
The automaker did not start repairing vehicles until April, because it had to wait for the parts supplier, Delphi, to manufacturer replacement ignition switch parts. There is also a strong likelihood that a significant number of the vehicles may never get repaired because people often ignore recall warnings, miss notifications that their vehicle is affected, or put off taking a vehicle in for repairs due to the inconvenience and eventually forget.
Typically, only about two-thirds of recalled vehicles actually get repaired industry wide. GM has a better than average track record, historically repairing about 85% of recalled vehicles in two years. In addition the wide-spread media coverage of the GM ignition switch problems and deaths linked to the vehicles is expected to increase the rate of repairs.
General Motors has urged those with the affected vehicles to take all excess keys off the key ring and just use the ignition switch alone, and is offering loaner vehicles to those who do not want to drive the cars until repairs have been made.
GM Ignition Switch Lawsuits
A growing number of GM ignition switch recall lawsuits have been filed by plaintiffs who suffered injuries in vehicles recalled by the auto maker this year. The company has recalled tens of millions of vehicles due to ignition switch problems and other issues this year, setting new historic vehicle recall records.
At least 10 million vehicles overall have been recalled for ignition switch problems alone. However, the company has set up a settlement fund that only addresses the 2.6 million vehicles recalled in February. Those vehicles have been in particular focus because of evidence that GM knew about the problem with those vehicles for more than a decade without taking any action to recall them.
In some cases, the injuries and deaths occurred in vehicles that have been recalled for ignition switch problems, but are not covered by the fund. In other cases, the claims are of economic losses from vehicle owners and investors who say that GM’s knowledge of the problem, and its refusal to act, gave a false impression of the value of the vehicles and the company.
In June, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation established coordinated proceedings for all lawsuits filed against General Motors (GM) over the ignition switch problems, centralizing cases filed nationwide before U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in the Southern District of New York as part of an MDL, or Multi-District Litigation.