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Rental Car Agency Asked GM to Investigate Cobalt

Tina Robinson2 years ago

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 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 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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