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Rental agencies suspected issues before GM recall

Massachusetts drivers may be paying attention to reports of recent recalls by General Motors. Apparently, some rental car companies brought concerns to the automaker’s attention well in advance of the large wave of recent problems. In fact, one rental company alerted GM to concerns at least seven years earlier. The company rented a Chevrolet Cobalt to an individual who later lost control of the vehicle in calm and clear weather conditions. The accident occurred in light traffic, and the driver wore a seat belt. However, airbags did not function properly, and the driver died in the incident. The rental company’s claims adjuster requested that GM inspect for defects due to the serious nature of the accident. Additional rental companies requested similar investigations after routine crashes involved failures with airbags. At least 30 accidents occurred beginning in 2005 involving Cobalt models and Saturn Ion models. Documentation indicates at least 10 years of complaints related to abnormal accidents that GM allegedly failed to address. According to a GM spokesperson, the manufacturer has since adjusted its approach to dealing with rental companies’ complaints about possible vehicle defects. The number of related recalls involving an ignition switch problem that may have contributed to disabling of airbags has exceeded 16 million. GM, meanwhile, points out that rental vehicles may be more susceptible to unusual accidents because they are driven by many different individuals who are not thoroughly familiar with their operation. While driver error can play a role in an automobile accident, a pattern of failures that involve a similar problem such as the deployment of airbags may signal a defect. A family dealing with the death of a loved one in such a case may need the assistance of a personal injury lawyer to obtain comprehensive information about a vehicle model’s history as wrongful death litigation is considered. Source: St. Louis Today, “Rental-car companies pushed GM on fatal crashes before recall“, Jeff Plungis and Tim Higgins, July 31, 2014