Published on October 12, 2015
The Volkswagen Emissions cover up scandal has been dominating the news for days now, and it may lead people to wonder, “What else might my car manufacturer be hiding?”
It’s a valid question, and automakers from all over the world have a less than stellar track record when it comes both to making mistakes, and to owning up to them before someone gets hurt. Worse, many of these kinds of scandals have done a lot more than spew environmentally unfriendly gases into the air or incapacitate a few people with whiplash symptoms or a couple of bruises. Three of the biggest scandals that immediately come to mind when we think of major manufacturer cover-ups are these.
The Toyota Brake Scandal (2009)
Toyota and Lexus started building vehicles with mechanical defects as early as 2007. Occasionally an accelerator could become stuck to in a depressed position, making it impossible to bring the vehicle to a stop. Toyota was aware of this problem, but concealed it from regulators and the public.
They also didn’t do anything to address the problem on their own for over 2 years because the design change was considered to be too costly. In 2009, the 911 call of a family that died after being trapped in one of these accelerating vehicles erupted into the news and brought national attention to the issue. The company was forced to pay a 1.2 billion dollar settlement and had to recall over 12 million vehicles for modifications.
The GM ignition Scandal (2014)
A problem with GM’s ignition switches first came to their attention internally in 2001. The defect was that the ignition switch could accidentally rotate and turn off on its own. This would deactivate power steering, power braking, and the vehicle’s airbags. After failing to inform regulators, and scrapping plans to correct the issue in 2005, those regulators then proceeded to ignore the problem after discovering reports of the problem themselves. When the issue with the airbags was specifically brought up in 2010, they again refused to open a full investigation.
In 2014, Georgie lawyer Lance Cooper sued GM on behalf of a client and brought the issue to the attention of the public. Over the course of the year GM was forced to recall 30 million vehicles, pay compensation of 124 deaths, and forfeit 900 million dollars to the US Government.
The Ford Pinto Fuel Tank Scandal (1977)
Probably the most famous automotive scandal, at least in the U.S., is the Ford Pinto Fuel Tank Scandal. The Pinto’s flawed design made it possible for the fuel tank to be punctured during a crash, and for the tank’s filler neck to break off and spill fuel beneath or even into the vehicle in some cases.
When the scandal was uncovered, a 1973 memo was found calculating the projected cost of lawsuits against the cost of repairing the problem ($11 per vehicle). Ford decided against fixing the defect, preferring to sell a moving death trap for the sake of profit. Though the scandal broke in 1977, it took another year until 1978 until Ford decided to recall 1.5 million Pintos. At least 900 people died as a result of Ford’s negligence.
Do you suspect that your car might have a defect? Have you or someone you love suffered symptoms of whiplash, disability, or wrongful death in an accident? Give us a call at (1-800-INJURED) and we’ll get you the care and compensation that you deserve.
Category: Car Accidents