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GM warned about defects in 2006

Motorists in Georgia may be surprised to learn that General Motors was warned about possible defects approximately seven years before a recall occurred in 2014. GM was contacted by an investigator employed by Vanguard Car Rental USA about a motorist in a Chevrolet Cobalt who lost control of the vehicle in September 2006. The vehicle drifted across the roadway onto a gravel median and overturned. The driver was wearing a seat belt but still died in the collision. The airbags allegedly failed to deploy during the accident.

The claims adjuster for Vanguard contacting GM acknowledged that the cause of the crash was unknown but noted that the details of the crash warranted the automaker opening a claim and inspecting the model for potential defects. Bloomberg recovered these documents with a Freedom of Information Act request. Warranty records, call transcripts and police reports revealed that Enterprise also pressed GM about potentially defective air bags after the rental company purchased Vanguard's brands in 2007.

Hertz, Avis and Budget all experienced collisions involving Chevrolet Cobalts that were a part of each of their fleets. An industry consultant claimed rental car companies were analogous to the canary in the coalmine. Files recovered by reporters uncovered exchanges between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and GM dating back to 2005. The eight-year period of exchanges between the federal agency and automaker focused primarily on faulty airbags and vehicles stalling.

Motorists who suffer injuries because of a defective part may be able to collect compensation by seeking a personal injury claim. Injured parties may be eligible to receive restitution that could help account for medical costs, vehicle repairs or lost income related to the car accident. Lawyers may be able to prove the manufacturer or dealership was negligent for the damages by working with industry experts, local police and reconstruction specialists.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Rental-car companies pushed GM on fatal crashes before recall", Jeff Plungis and Tim Higgins, July 31, 2014

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