After an investigation that took more than a year, this week, the final numbers for deaths and injuries caused by GM’s faulty ignition switches were released. The final tally is bad, but GM could be in even more trouble as lawsuits outside of this large-scale investigation and settlement continue to be resolved. In the year-long investigation into GM’s ignition switches, it was determined that the faulty equipment was directly responsible for 124 fatalities and 274 injuries over the course of a decade when GM willingly manufactured cars with these known defects.
As a result of these findings, GM will be required to pay a minimum of one million dollars to each of the victim’s families, and perhaps more in some of the more egregious cases. GM has already paid upwards of $280 million to families and victims impacted by their negligence, and the total settlement is expected to be well over $600 million when all is said and done.
The lawsuit all stems from the fact that GM intentionally covered up the defective ignition switches since 2001, and even continued to produce cars that had the known issue. This ultimately led to the recall of a staggering 26.8 million GM vehicles just last year. Models impacted included the Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR, Pontiac G5 and Sky, and Saturn Ion and Solstice. These cars all had several model years recalled, as the ignition switches had been malfunctioning in these vehicles for over a decade.
While GM is already in hot water here, things will likely get worse once the other 172 individual lawsuits pending against the company are resolved. There are also 100-plus class action lawsuits awaiting litigation, and charges filed against GM by every one of the 50 state’s attorneys general. Once the dust has cleared, this could be much, much worse for GM than even the wildest guesses predicted; after all, GM’s original claim was that it knew of just 13 deaths caused by the ignition switches.
The extent of the damage just continues to grow, and GM may even face criminal charges in the matter. Stay tuned.