As consumers, individuals have a tendency to assume that the items available for purchase have been tested for safety. However, just because these checks are typically in place, it does not necessarily ensure that correctly product is free from defects. Sometimes people can unknowingly purchase a defective product.
Companies that manufacture, distribute or sell products are responsible for making sure they are safe or come with sufficient warnings to consumers. In general, safety checks are effective and any defect is identified in time to protect people from getting hurt. When these efforts fail, the consequences can be catastrophic. For example, if a car has a defect, it can break down or malfunction and victims can be injured in a serious accident.
Montana residents may have seen General Motors in the news recently for delaying a product recall. An investigation revealed that employees may have been aware of problems with a defective auto part, the ignition switch, as much as 10 years ago. However, the company’s decision not to recall the product until this February resulted in multiple consumer injuries and more than a dozen deaths. Most recently, the company was sentenced to pay $35 million in fines, but that could be increased to $300 million.
According to reports, GM has been ordered to pay millions of dollars in fines and is facing a number of lawsuits claiming that defective ignition switches in their vehicles put consumers in danger. A defective ignition switch could turn to the “off” position while a car is in motion. If this happens, drivers can lose control of their vehicles and critical systems, including airbags, anti-lock brakes and power steering, are disabled.
In addition to the fines and lawsuits the company is facing, GM has also faced enormous public backlash for failing to issue a recall in a timely manner.
If you have purchased a defective product, whether it was part of a recall or not, a negligent company can be held liable for any damage caused, and you could be eligible for compensation. An attorney may be able to help you understand your rights and legal options.
Source: NBC Montana, "GM to pay $35 million over delayed recall," Chris Isidore and Rene Marsh, May 17, 2014