Defective cars blamed for wrongfully convicted drivers

Many motorists in California and across the country may be vindicated by new evidence that reveals defective cars were responsible for accidents that led to driver convictions. According to a recent report, a growing number of wrongfully convicted drviers are expected to file suit against General Motors, Toyota and other vehicle manufacturers.

The evidence was found in February 2014 when General Motors recalled 2.6 million vehicles because of defective ignition switches that can cause a car to unexpectedly turn off or accelerate on its own. The discovery has provided answers to many motorists who experienced serious accidents for unknown reasons. While some of those crashes resulted in deaths, others left drivers or passengers severely injured. For example, in September 2010 a woman suddenly lost control of her car, resulting in the death of her 16-year-old passenger. As a result, she pleaded guilty to reckless driving and involuntary manslaughter and spent three months in jail. The woman's lawyers said the car's brakes and steering malfunctioned when the ignition switch inadvertently shut off. The defect also stopped the air bags from deploying, which caused the fatality.

The news release also noted that during 2014, there were 64 million cars recalled within the United States. Although many of those defective cars were at least 10 years old, General Motors was reportedly aware of the issue prior to those years. As a result, many drivers serving jail time on unfounded claims they drove in a reckless fashion may seek justice, claiming the defect was a direct cause of the accident.

Whenever a person is injured or dies following a car accident, a police investigation generally follows. During the investigation, authorities work to determine the cause of the crash. Injured victims or the family of a deceased victim might want to pursue damages by filing a lawsuit if they believe a negligent driver or a vehicle defect caused the crash. A lawyer could assess the official police report and witness accounts in an attempt to identify the responsible party.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Drivers Convicted, Jailed for Crashes Now Blamed on Car Defects", Margaret Fisk, Sept. 2, 2015

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