Many of the 2.6 million vehicles affected by the GM ignition recall announced earlier this year were part of rental fleets. Now, a new report details numerous requests from rental agencies to investigate possible airbag defects in these vehicles after customers were involved in fatal accidents.
Vanguard Claims Adjuster Requests Investigation
A report in Claims Journal details information retrieved by Bloomberg News using the Freedom of Information Act. The records show eight years of customer service call transcripts, warranty claims, and police reports that indicate Enterprise Holdings Inc. had repeatedly requested GM investigate crashes involving Chevy Cobalts. In total, the documents obtained indicated 30 crashes that resulted in 37 fatalities. Specifically,
- In September 2006 a Chevy Cobalt rented out by Vanguard’s Alama unit was involved in a fatal crash. The vehicle had drifted across the median, struck a tree, and rolled over. The airbags never deployed. A claims adjuster for Vanguard, noting the “serious nature” of the accident, implored GM to open an investigation.
- In March 2005 a fatal crash in Bee Cave, Texas left a woman and man dead, and their teenage daughter suffered brain damage after the driver lost control of a Saturn Ion rented from Enterprise. Police reports determined a braking and steering defect to be the cause of the crash.
- In January 2006, a 2006 Cobalt rented from Enterprise ran off the road and crashed into a tree in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The airbags did not deploy.
Many Chevy Cobalts were Rental Vehicles
According to Maryann Keller, an auto industry consultant, “If there is a canary in the coal mine, it’s rental car companies. They were the first users of the vehicles en masse.” In fact, the Cobalt was widely-used among rental fleets due to its cheap cost.
Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety points out that rental vehicles are often driven for many miles and by drivers who may be unfamiliar with the vehicle itself. That, he says, can be the difference between knowing what to do in an emergency such as an engine stall or a fatal accident.
Thomas J. Henry Fights for GM Recall Victims
Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys is representing more than 1,000 GM recall victims across the United States and has been investigating injuries and deaths linked to the recall since day one. The firm launched a nationwide media investigation into the recall in April, which brought forth thousands of affected individuals who had information critical to the investigation – information that the firm has handed over to federal agencies also investigating GM’s sluggish response the recall. As more and more individuals have flocked to Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys for representation, the firm has continued to push GM for a victim settlement fund. The firm has had several talks with GM’s victim compensation expert Ken Feinberg regarding appropriate victim compensation for the thousands affected by a fatal design flaw in ignition switches which left numerous dead and countless others seriously injured.
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About the Fatal Tractor-Trailer Accident
According to FOX 7, the accident occurred early Wednesday morning around 3:30 am in North Austin. It is reported that two 18-wheelers were heading southbound along I-35. It looks as though one crashed into the back side of the other.
One of the truck drivers was killed in the accident the other was not hurt and remained on scene after the crash occurred.
The Austin American-Statesman reported in an updated account that police had identified the victim of the accident as 51-year-old Michael Raymond Mitchell. Also reported was that one of the 18-wheelers was pulled onto the shoulder of I-35. The semi was trying to accelerate to move back onto the travel lanes when the second semi, driven by Mitchell, hit the back of the 18-wheeler.
Crews were reported to have been on the scene for more than six hours trying to clear the wreckage from the highway.
Tractor-Trailer Accident Statistics
The following information if from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:
- In 2012, of all fatal crashes in the nation, approximately 3,702, or 12%, involved at least one large truck or bus.
- 317,000 crashes reported in 2012, involved large trucks and of those 3,464 proved to be fatal.
- Injuries accounted for approximately 73,000 crashes involving large trucks in 2012.
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About the Hyundai Sonata Recall
Reuters states that the Sonatas were recalled because the transmission gearshift has a defective shift cable, which may lead to a car accident. About 880,000 cars were sold in the United States, and about 3,000 were sold in Puerto Rico (most of the affected cars were sold in the U.S.). Hyundai declares that while 1,171 warranty claims and seven incidents have been reported, no injuries or accidents have occurred. Consumers are recommended to stop using their cars immediately and to call their dealers for a free inspection and free shift cable/lever repair.
Description of Recalled Hyundai Sonatas
- The Hyundai Sonatas recalled are from model years 2011 to 2014.
- In the recalled sedans, the transmission shift cable could detach from the shift-lever pin, causing the gear selection to not correspond to the indicated gear.
- The transmission issue could cause the car to move in an unexpected direction or keep the car stuck in park.
- Hyundai owners will be notified of the car recall by mail during the third quarter.
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