GM Recalls & the Courtesy of Telling a Hard Truth

More than 20 million recalls.

13 deaths.

54 crashes.

At least 80 lawsuits, and more to come.

$2 billion in recall-related charges.

The numbers are in, and so far it’s been a rough year for General Motors. ┬áThe auto maker is under fire for a faulty ignition switch, and product liability lawsuits are already under way. Still, the number of lawsuits filed pales in comparison to the total number of recalls. Forced to finally take the recalls seriously, GM is no longer laughing all the way to the bank.

So, who cares? People who buy stock. People who file lawsuits. People who drive GM vehicles. And people want to know what their recourse is for driving a car with a recalled part.

The truth is I can’t afford to represent a client who hasn’t been catastrophically injured, or a client who isn’t the representative of an estate. A product liability lawsuit against General Motors could cost me a million dollars. It certainly would run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Product liability cases are won with expert witnesses. Expensive engineer experts who charge me while they sleep if they’re attending a deposition, hearing, or trial away from home.

GM won’t be hearing from me over any defects that don’t cause serious physical injury or death. And GM knows that. They know you won’t be lawyering up over a repair; they’re not going to pay for your inconvenience or consequential damages of having to deal with the recall. They’ll pay for the switch, and you might get a courtesy ride, but don’t expect anything else for your trouble.

So what’s GM going to do? It’ll fight like hell all the product cases – even the most righteous. It’ll deny, delay, and defend every one until one day there develops a pattern. Then its president will tell the GM attorneys to settle the worthy ones.

But some brave souls are going to have to set the pattern. They’ll have to stare down their claim being called frivolous and their personal life being aired for all to see. They’ll have to survive the modern-day trial by ordeal, the adversarial process. It is no small task to take on General Motors. For those who have to, we wish them well and thank them for being leaders.

 

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