The NHTSA and GM Defects: Congress Blames Agency for Failure to Act

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Several car recalls and thousands of consumer complaints later, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is taking heat for its handling of the GM auto defect scandal.

Both houses of Congress recently had plenty of criticism regarding the NHTSA and GM defects. Lawmakers are specifically taking the agency to task for failing to identify several clues that pointed to defects in these vehicles that could endanger motorists. The agency only decided to act after several accidents, many of them fatal ones, were linked to the use of the General Motors vehicles.

So what can you do if you were harmed because of a defective GM vehicle? There have been several GM recalls for issues other than the ignition switches. If you suffered injuries because of a defect, Max Meyers Law can help you explore your options for pursuing compensation from the car manufacturer. Call 425-399-7000. GM has even set up a compensation fund, which we discuss later.

What Congress Said about the NHTSA and GM Defects

The Seattle Times published an AP report in mid-September paraphrasing Senator Claire McCaskill who reportedly pointed out that a state trooper from another state reported to the NHTSA that there may be a problem with GM ignition switches while investigating a fatal crash.

Senator Richard Blumenthal also reportedly took the NHTSA to task. The AP report quoted him as saying that the agency failed to meet its obligations to the public to protect them on the highways.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee also recently released a report claiming that the NHTSA should have known of a defective faulty ignition switch problem in 2007. That is a full seven years before the company finally announced a recall of 2.6 million cars for the potentially fatal defect.

General Motors Defects and Product Liability Claims

If you were involved in an accident involving a defective General Motors car, you are likely eligible for compensation for your injuries and damages. In 2014 alone, GM recalled a number of cars under these popular brands.

  • Chevrolet
  • GMC
  • Buick
  • Cadillac
  • Pontiac
  • Saturn


Persons who suffered injuries, or lost loved ones in accidents involving a defective car are eligible for compensation for damages. Claims for compensation for accidents involving a defective car are typically filed under product liability law.

General Motors has set up a compensation fund, which has reportedly received over 1,000 claims so far. This includes 156 death claims, 74 serious injury claims, and 860 lesser injury claims, according to reports. It has so far reportedly approved 23 death claims.

There is no fund on payments, though the fund pays at least $1 million for death claims, and $300,000 for pain and suffering to surviving spouses and children who lose a loved one.

What does the NHTSA and GM defects controversy mean for me? Can I get compensation?

The NHTSA and GM defects controversy is highlighting the importance of the agency's responsibility to detect and recall dangerous automobiles. But it's the car manufacturer that ultimately may be responsible for compensating victims who suffer injuries because of the defect.

GM's compensation fund is accepting claims through December 31, 2014. Thus, if you believe you are entitled to damages, you need to act soon. A lawyer can work with you to determine if you're eligible and help you file a claim for compensation if you lost a loved one because of a GM defect-related accident, or if you suffered injuries.

If you're in the Seattle area, set up a consultation with Max Meyers Law, PLLC so you can discuss filing a claim to recover damages. Call toll-free to speak with an attorney or fill out our online consultation form to set up your appointment.  

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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.