General Motors Settles Faulty Ignition Switch Cases

Three years after the initial recall was announced and over a decade since the defect was initially detected, General Motors (GM), has been ordered to pay a $120 million settlement regarding their massive ignition switch defect scandal. According to the Detroit Free Press, the settlement was announced on October 19, 2017, and is settling claims in multiple states. The ignition switch defect killed 124 people and injured 275 more.

The defect was found in smaller cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion, which were made by the old GM. The defective ignition switch caused the cars’ engines to stall and prevented airbags from deploying, all while the car was in motion. GM recalled 2.7 million vehicles in 2014 due to this issue. The state of Michigan will be receiving $4.3 million, which will be put in the state’s general fund. The settlement does not include payments GM has made/is making to families of those killed or injured in accidents caused by the defective ignition switch.

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The recall is one of the largest in the U.S., and has a timeline spanning over a decade. The Michigan Attorney General’s Office said in a statement that "certain employees of GM knew as early as 2004 that the ignition switch posed a safety defect because it could prevent airbags from deploying. However, despite this knowledge, GM personnel decided it wasn’t a safety concern and delayed making recalls. GM continued to market the reliability and safety of its motor vehicles which were equipped with this defective ignition switch.”

According to NPR, GM first noticed a problem with the defective ignition switch in 2001 during pre-testing of the Saturn Ion. An inquiry was launched looking into this, and was closed in 2003, saying the problem had been fixed. GM again noticed the same defect in 2004 during production of the Chevrolet Cobalt, but rejected a proposal in March of 2005 to fix the issue due to the time and money it would require. In December of that same year, GM released a statement saying the defect occurs when "the driver is short and has a large and/or heavy key chain...the customer should be advised of this potential and should ... [remove] unessential items from their key chain, ” but did not issue a recall.

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Fast forward to 2007, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a probe into the issue, but closed it saying they found no correlation between the faulty ignition switch and the complaints they received. Another NHTSA probe of the issue was opened and closed in 2010. By the end of 2013, GM had officially linked the faulty ignition switch to 31 car collisions and 13 deaths. Finally in February of 2014, the defect was officially reported to the NHTSA and the initial recall was launched. More recalls were issued in March, April, and May of that year.

On the day the settlement was announced, GM said in a statement that “the resolution includes a financial component, and assures GM will continue ongoing improvements made to ensure the safety of its vehicles. These improvements include continuation of a new organizational structure devoted to global vehicle safety and the company’s Speak Up for Safety program.”

Hopefully, GM is serious about this commitment to safety, and another car safety recall such as this could be avoided. While recalls are often for relatively minor issues, the number of injuries and fatalities due to the GM ignition switch defect shows that recalls need to be taken seriously. Drivers need to pay attention when recalls are announced, and be proactive about checking their car’s VIN number to make sure their vehicles are safe to drive. While some mechanical issues are impossible to predict, knowing if your car is under recall is something all drivers are responsible for, not only for their own safety, but for the safety of their passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians.


Regardless of whether or not your vehicle is under recall, car accidents due to mechanical failures happen. If you or a loved one have been involved in a motor vehicle accident due to a recall, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation.

Michigan Helps Lead the Country In Autonomous Vehicle Regulations

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Trying to keep up with the fast-growing autonomous car industry, more than 50 bills have been introduced in 20 states to establish some type of regulation for self-driving vehicles. The Detroit Free Press predicts that autonomous vehicles will transform business models by reducing personal car ownership, restructuring urban and suburban development, and eliminating millions of transportation jobs while at the same time creating many more jobs. Michigan was one of the first states that adopted legislation to make it easier for automakers to test self-driving vehicles on a public road without a driver. Governor Rick Snyder said in December, “We should we proud we’re leading the world, right here in Michigan.” 

Legislation in Michigan also “allows automated platoons of trucks to travel together at set speeds” and “allows networks of self-driving cars that can pick up passengers.” Additionally, Ford’s self-driving Fusions and GM’s self-driving Chevrolet Bolts have been cleared for more testing. 

Michigan is not alone in passing autonomous vehicle legislation. 21 other states and Washington D.C. have also passed legislation or adopted regulations based on a Governor’s executive order. They are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New York, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

However, the lack of uniformity among states may be confusing for owners of self-driving cars and could potentially harm innovation. Chan Lieu, an advisor to the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets (whose members include former Google driverless car project Waymo, automakers Ford and Volvo, and ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft) mentions, “If you had 50 different requirements for 50 different states, each state (might do it) different. It’s going to be very, very difficult to build a vehicle to be effectively sold across the country.” This is all the more reason to distinguish states such as Michigan, as leaders in regulating the autonomous vehicle industry. 

Currently, “states are balancing a desire to be viewed as beacons of innovation while also seeking to protect their residents from technology that remains unproven on a large scale.” Federal regulations, on the other hand, may take years to propose and implement new rules on autonomous cars. This timeline may clash with the fast pace self-driving technology is moving at. 
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In the past, individual states have regulated driver behavior while the federal government has regulated the vehicle itself. A House subcommittee was scheduled to meet on June 27, 2017 to discuss several drafts of 14 self-driving bills in Washington D.C. Gary Peters, a US senator representing Michigan, said legislation should be introduced in the next few weeks that will lead to “a complete re-write of federal regulations for motor vehicles when you take the driver out of the car.” US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in Detroit, Michigan last month, that the presidential administration will reveal revised self-driving guidelines within the next few months, in order to “incorporate feedback and improvements recommended by numerous stakeholders.” 

Yet with automakers quickly developing autonomous technology, it will likely be up to individual states to create updated regulations as improvements are made. Safety is the main priority for states looking to support advancements while at the same time minimizing motor vehicle collisions. Jessica Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the California Department of Motor Vehicles, said, “We know this technology can save lives. It can mean mobility for millions of people. So we see all the advantages to it, but at the same time we’re tasked with making sure this technology is safe.” 

With Toyota and the University of Michigan collaborating on autonomous vehicles and the US economy preparing for big changes from self-driving cars, it is no surprise that the state of Michigan is heading towards a safe and supportive environment for future technology. In Detroit, major automakers are the backbone of autonomous improvements. USA TODAY Network reports that GM announced the production on 130 self-driving Chevrolet Bolt test vehicles at its plant in Orion township last month, fulfilling the company’s promise to help maintain Michigan’s leadership in the autonomous car industry. Ford is also among automakers that have proposed to launch a fully autonomous vehicle by 2021. 

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There is no doubt that the Great Lakes State will do innovative things in the coming years as it helps develop and regulate self-driving cars. However, safety is vital when testing new technologies, as even seemingly perfect dream vehicles may put passengers at risk for being involved in motor vehicle crashes. Above all, autonomous vehicles are breaking new ground in the transportation industry, and it will be up to lawmakers-at both state and national levels-to keep up. 


The State of Michigan is the birthplace of cars, and continues to make strides in the automobile industry. As self-driving technology rapidly develops, states like Michigan are working to regulate autonomous vehicles at a similar pace. Safety remains the main priority, as no state wants to compromise the lives of citizens because of a cool car with no one driving it. If you or someone you know has been involved in a severe motor vehicle collision, please contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

The Impact of Autonomous Cars on the US Economy

There has been continuous buzz about self-driving cars over the past few years, with successful tests and disastrous accidents alike, being reported in the news. There is no doubt that such a ground-breaking invention will change transportation norms throughout the United States, just as Henry Ford’s automobiles forever changed the way to get around the country.

In fact, Wired reports autonomous vehicles are expected to add $7 trillion to the U.S. economy over the next 35 years, based on data from Intel and research company Strategy Analytics. This is no small number, considering just robotic cars alone could add $2 trillion to the nation's economy by 2050, not even taking into account the current jobs and businesses that will be affected financially. To put these numbers into perspective, $1 trillion could buy about 40 million new cars, according to Kiplinger. But what makes up this enormous number?

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Self-Driving Cars and Jobs

Autonomous cars are predicted to positively influence the economy in the coming years, but their impact will be spread unevenly across sectors. Companies like Google and GM who have invested in making this technology a reality, will see the most money. Then, for the average Joe, the industries that will likely see a rise in job demands include data analysis, IT, and mechanics. Just like our smart phones and credit cards, autonomous cars collect data on a driver's habits, which in turn creates jobs for humans who need to sort and analyze this data. Intel reports jobs in information technology (IT), though they will see a shift from actual discovery of information to the management of machines finding information, will almost double in intensity. Additionally, the number of miles driven is expected to rise, increasing the need for cars, self-driving or otherwise, to be repaired by mechanics. 

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On the other hand, there will also be a decline in jobs, especially for people working in the service industries. Jobs like food delivery and taxi services may no longer be needed with the use of self-driving cars. This brings into effect the concept that Intel and Strategy Analytics call "The Passenger Economy," an idea which places economic and societal value on pilotless vehicles. Essentially, why hire humans to do a job that cars can do on their own? While they profit either way, this is a question that companies like Uber will have to face when replacing human drivers with company vehicles. 

It should also be noted that self-driving cars may create jobs that are still unknown. After all, with new technologies come new jobs the market previously did not anticipate. On the flip side, new technologies could also make jobs that currently exist obsolete. No matter which sectors see an increase or decline in job security, the fact remains that the American economy will still receive an estimated $7 trillion economic boost (or even even bigger-no one can put an exact number on the future!) Just like the Model-T helped restructure city spaces and bring the suburbs into existence, autonomous vehicles have the ability to transform job markets. There are endless possibilities for economic reform.

Autonomous Car Regulations

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Though all the glory of creating thousands of new jobs and boosting the economy sounds appealing, it does not happen without the technology meeting all safety standards first. Which is why, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is not counting their chickens before their eggs hatch. The NHTSA has released the Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles, a document which, "outlines best practices for the safe design, development and testing of automated vehicles prior to commercial sale or operation on public roads." Included in this document is a 15-point safety assessment that requires manufacturers to meet objectives such as operational design, post-crash response, privacy, and cybersecurity before their cars can go to market. Considering that 94% of automobile crashes are due to human error, there is definitely room for technology to advance driver safety. Hopefully, if all autonomous vehicle manufacturers can meet the standards set by the NHTSA, this will be a step in the right direction to saving lives. 

The Future of Self-Driving Cars

What does all this mean for people who are willing to give up their spot behind the wheel and let the car drive itself? (That is a scary thought for a lot of people!) Well, most people want more proof that these cars won't crash and will safely deliver them to their destination before they surrender the wheel. That is why companies who create autonomous car technology need to be regulated to ensure absolute safety in their products and so that consumers are not just paying for the newest trend in transportation. Put simply, this technology needs to save lives and be safer than the transportation methods we already have. Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute said to Consumer Reports that “there’s no way that we as a society would accept self-driving cars that cause the same number of fatalities as humans.” 

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In 2015, there were roughly 35,000 traffic deaths in the United States. Future autonomous vehicles must allow for more safety if they are to replace human drivers. People also need to remember that transportation technology takes years of planning before it can be used in everyday lives, and that for now, only people can drive cars. Testing allows room for development and improvement, but overall “we expect machines to be better than us,” as Pratt said.

Until it's proven that autonomous vehicles are safer than human-operated vehicles, humans need to be careful when driving on the road today. While we may one day be able to sleep while a car drives us around, we have to make sure that for now, we don't fall asleep behind the wheel! Sleepy driving, distracted driving, and drunk driving are bad human habits that can lead to serious injuries and death in the event of a car crash. By following the rules of the road and maintaining good driving habits, people can protect themselves from being involved in fatal car accidents. 

At the end of the day, it is impossible to plan the future or to predict how large of an impact autonomous vehicles will have on the economy or auto law. What we do know is that self-driving cars will add jobs, take away jobs, and, based on how well they are regulated, even save lives. 


Self-driving cars are growing closer to reality than we think due to the rapid development of technology. However, today, we still rely on people to drive vehicles, and as such, following the rules of the road is the best way to stay safe and to avoid motor vehicle accidents. If you or someone you know has been in involved in an auto accident, please contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

GM And The US Government Agree to Extend Oversight One More Year

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General Motors Co. will continue to be under the watchful eye of U.S auto safety regulators for another year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told GM in a letter. 

In 2014, the Detroit, Michigan based automaker agreed to a deal which included monthly meetings, enhanced regulations and transparency, as well as a $35 million fine from the NHTSA. All of this was a result of delayed action to an ignition switch defect in millions of vehicles that led to about 400 deaths and injuries. 

GM has had to pay out major money in the aftermath of the ignition switch case. Costs topped $2 billion, including a $900 million settlement with the United States Justice Department. Reuters stated that under the original agreement with NHTSA, GM is required to provide a written list every month of all safety issues under review by the automaker's investigators, even if the company decides it's not necessary to have a recall. 

In its letter this past week, the NHTSA believes the relationship with GM has been productive. "The meetings have been useful to proactively and expeditiously address potential safety-related defects and to facilitate," the letter reads. 


Car defects can be triggered by something as simple as having too much weight on a key chain or driving in extreme climates. These automobile faults may even cause drivers to lose control of the car and potentially cause injuries or fatalities. If you or somebody you know has been involved in an accident caused by a car defect, please call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Whether the accident resulted in a few broken bones or it caused head trauma, our attorneys are highly experienced in helping victims of all types of motor vehicle collisions. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM.

GM Offering Reimbursement Plans for 2016 Crossover Owners

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General Motors Company (GM) is looking to make amends for overstating the fuel economy of some of its 2016 crossover models. The Detroit, Michigan based auto company will be offering between $450 and $900 or an extended warranty to owners of the 2016 Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave. These vehicles featured a window sticker that overstated the fuel economy by 1 to 2 miles per gallon.  

GM is offering its customers a debit card or a 48-month/60,000-mile protection plan which is designed for high-mileage customers. The debit card will carry $450 for front-wheel drive vehicle customers and $900 for all-wheel drivers. While GM declined to comment on the Detroit Free Press article regarding the cost of these offers, if all eligible owners chose the gift card option, and the average card was worth $675, the cost would be somewhere around a $90 billion loss for the company. 

GM said that the difference in the predicted vs. actual fuel economy was related to new emissions-related hardware. While testing the 2016 system, engineers found that the actual fuel economy was 1 or 2 mpg lower than the 2015 models, yet the stickers for the 2016 models remained the same.

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This might not even be the first year that this type of discrepancy took place. Consumer Reports has suggested that the same type of error regarding fuel economy may have also happened on past models for the crossover vehicles. Jake Fisher, Director of Automotive Testing for Consumer Reports reviewed their own fuel economy tests from as far back as 2007 models and found that they reached an average of 15 mpg in combined city and highway driving on the Enclave and 16 mpg on the Traverse. The EPA-Certified number for that model year was 18 m.p.g for both.

GM informed its dealers of the reimbursement plan this past Friday, and owners will be receiving letters in the mail regarding their options beginning Wednesday. Potential car owners should ask their dealer about the vehicle's fuel economy and how much it will save them at the gas pump.


While crossovers are seen as a safer option compared to cars, they are not immune from getting involved in a dangerous car accident. If you or somebody you know has been involved in a car crash, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Accidents can be the result of recklessness, distracted or impaired driving, and can cause damaging injuries. Our attorneys are highly experienced and will give you the one-on-one consultation you deserve. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.