As part of a $120 million settlement with General Motors Co. for concealing safety issues related to vehicle defects, Maine is slated to receive $1.1 million in compensation. It stems from a settlement reached between the Michigan-based auto manufacturer and attorneys general from 49 states plus the District of Colombia.
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills released a statement characterizing the deception as creating a dangerous situation for the public. It stemmed from information that came to light following seven vehicle recall from GM affecting more than 9 million vehicles that reportedly had defective ignition switches that had the potential to cause a loss of electrical power to the vehicle, affecting power brakes and power steering. There were also reports that airbags could fail to deploy in the event of a Maine car accident. The recalls in and of themselves weren’t the issue, but rather that some GM insiders were aware of these safety problems for at least a decade before the recalls were issued. Furthermore, the company continued to market the vehicles as reliable and safe. These actions, Mills office indicated, ran afoul of Maine’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. The more than $1 million of that settlement slated for Maine will go into a consumer trust account. There is still a class action lawsuit pending that involves several people who allegedly suffered personal injuries and wrongful death as a result of these dangerous vehicle defects, The Press Herald reports.
Although most car accident lawsuits in Maine involve the negligence of other drivers, injury lawyers cannot overlook the possibility of automobile defects, given the fact that the number of vehicle recalls has reached record rates in recent years. Reuters reported U.S. auto recalls in 2016 affected a record 53.2 million vehicles, in large part due to defective Takata airbag inflaters. Last year topped the previous record, set in 2015, of auto recalls affecting 51.2 million vehicles.
As our Portland car accident lawyers can explain, a recall in and of itself is not considered proof of liability by an auto manufacturer. There are many theories of liability under which an accident victim may be able to obtain compensation.
One of those is strict liability. In most civil injury cases, plaintiffs must prove one’s injury was the result of defendant’s negligence. However, it can be very difficult to do this in the case of a manufacturer producing several product lines. Strict liability is a means by which a plaintiff doesn’t need to prove negligence, but instead shows the vehicle or one of its parts was unreasonably dangerous, and this defect resulted in injuries.
There is also the possibility of asserting breach of express or implied warranty. When you’re purchasing a product, it often comes with some type of guarantee – either written or implied – that it meets certain standards. Vehicles are no different, and these warranties most often pertain to the vehicle’s safety. When the vehicle doesn’t meet those standards and results in injury, this claim can be filed.
Many product liability lawsuits are filed as class action claims, but not all.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Portland, Maine, it’s important to discuss all your legal options with an experienced attorney.
If you are the victim of a Portland car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
General Motors to pay Maine $1.1 million in settlement, Oct. 19, 2017, By J. Craig Anderson, The Portland Press Herald
More Blog Entries:
Arguing for Auto Insurance Coverage in Maine After Crash Despite Cancellation, Nov. 1, 2017, Portland Auto Accident Lawyer Blog