Three days. That is how many days after Lara Gass received the recall notice for her 2006 Saturn Ion, that she was killed in an auto accident when she crashed into a tractor-trailer in Virginia. Ms. Gass, a third-year honors student and law review editor at Washington & Lee University School of Law, in Lexington, Virginia, was on the way to her internship with a federal judge. The accident occurred on March 18, 2014, on Interstate 81, and the police initially determined the icy highway as the cause, but recently Ms. Gass’ family received a payout offer from the victim compensation fund setup by General Motors. You see the recall notice that Ms. Gass received was for the problem that has drawn national attention and resulted in millions of vehicles being recalled – the defective ignition switch that could shut off power and disable the power steering, brakes, and air brakes. Ms. Gass is the first known death to have occurred since GM disclosed the defect and started recalling cars.
Ms. Gass’ family is among the first to receive a payment offer from GM’s compensation fund, but that has not stopped her parents from asking why GM has not done more to get these defective and deadly vehicles off the road. To date, GM’s only solution has been for people to drive the defective cars with only the ignition key in the ignition, with no key fobs or other keys attached. The driver’s side of Ms. Gass’ car was so badly destroyed and burnt in the collision that no one was able to determine if she had followed this advice following learning of the recall. This is despite the fact that the fund manager, Kenneth R. Feinberg has already determine that 21 death claims are eligible under the fund, 50 percent more than the 13 deaths GM had acknowledged. He is still reviewing more than 120 death claims and 500 injury claims, meaning that the number of deaths caused by the defect is likely to continue to increase. Hundreds of thousands of these defective and deadly cars are still out on the road, with the drivers often unaware of the danger posed to themselves and others on the road. Ms. Gass’ father recently saw a woman at a gas station getting into a Saturn Ion holding a key chain with several keys. He took the time to stop her and tell the story of his daughter, to make sure she was aware of the recall and the danger it posed.
As personal injury attorneys who serve Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, the attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, and Siegel, P.C. have spent decades fighting to hold companies accountable for the defective and potentially hazardous products that release to the public. Our personal injury attorneys handle product liability and product defect cases of all kinds. If you believe that you or someone you love may been hurt by a defective vehicle, defective product, or someone’s negligent conduct, please call the attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, and Siegel, P.C.