Over the years, General Motors (GM) has paid millions in class action settlements pertaining to ignition switch issues. Most recently in 2020, the automaker was ordered to pay a $121.1 million class action settlement to resolve a suit that accuses the automaker of selling vehicles with defective ignition switches.
Allegedly, there is an issue with the switch circuitry in affected vehicles, which causes the ignition to change from an “on” position to “auxiliary” or “standby” mode. When this happens, the vehicle may shut off suddenly or fail to activate the airbags in an accident. The 2021 GM ignition switch lawsuit argued that issues with the ignition switch increase the risk of accidents with severe outcomes due to possible airbag failure.
GM’s ignition switch has been allegedly linked to approximately 124 deaths and over 275 injuries. It took GM nine years to admit that this vehicle component is in fact defective. The American automaker has been recalling millions of its vehicles due to this issue since 2005. Company emails have surfaced that GM ordered millions of replacement ignition switches prior to announcing several of these recalls.
One massive recall by the automaker occurred in February 2014. General Motors recalled about 800,000 vehicles due to poorly designed ignition switches that can shut off the engine at any time or interfere with airbag deployment. The auto manufacturer began to add even more GM vehicles to the recall in the following months, raising the original total to at least 30 million recalled vehicles worldwide.
GMC Ignition Switch Settlement Overview
The defect has allegedly been linked to 124 deaths and 275 injuries in the United States alone. Auto experts argue that those numbers may be even higher. Several of these incidents were head-on collisions in which either the airbags failed to deploy and or the car’s engine shut off entirely while driving. GM has allegedly known about the safety risks involving the defective ignition switch for approximately 13 years.
The costs associated with the GM ignition switch problem have been tremendous, both in lives and money lost. The automaker’s estimated expenses related to this issue are well over $1.2 billion.
Who Can Join the GM Ignition Switch Lawsuit?
The 2021 GM ignition switch class action settlement deadline has already passed. Consumers affected by any of the following five GM recalls were eligible to join the original suit:
- Delta Ignition Switch (NHTSA Recall No. 14v047)
- Key Rotation (NHTSA Recall Nos. 14v355, 14v394, and 14v400)
- Camaro Knee-Key (NHTSA Recall No. 14v346)
- Electronic Power Steering (NHTSA Recall No. 14v153)
- Side Airbag (NHTSA Recall No. 14v118)
The deadline to opt-out of the latest ignition switch suit was on October 20, 2020. The GM ignition switch settlement amount was approved on December 18, 2020, with 49 states and the District of Columbia all receiving part of the payout.
How do I Know if my GM Vehicle is Affected?
GM vehicles with defective ignition switch components may shut off suddenly while driving. Affected drivers may also notice airbag warning lights, disabling of the airbags, or airbag failure. Your GM vehicle may be affected by the ignition switch issue if it is included in any of the recalls above.
Which Makes and Models are Affected?
The ignition switch in question can be found in various Cadillac and Chevrolet vehicles including:
- Cadillac CTS
- Cadillac SRX
- Chevrolet Camaro
- Chevrolet Cobalt
- Chevrolet Impala
- Chevrolet Malibu
How Much Money Can Someone Get?
This depends on whether you accept a class action settlement or pursue an individual lemon law claim. In a class-action suit, the settlement is divided amongst a group of claimants. In a lemon law case, the claimant could receive far more in compensation for their defective car. A class action settlement may offer you some reimbursement, however, through a lemon law settlement, you could be eligible for more.
With a successful lemon law claim, a consumer can get a refund, a replacement vehicle, or cash compensation plus the payment of one’s attorneys fees and costs. A lemon law refund consists of the reimbursement of the following costs associated with the lemon vehicle:
- Down payment
- All monthly payments
- Rental fees
- Towing expenses
- Attorney fees / costs
With a lemon law refund, the auto manufacturer is entitled to deduct a usage fee from the refund, which is a value for when the consumer drove the vehicle trouble-free.
Why Should a Consumer Pursue an Individual Case and Not Join a Class Action?
Consumers generally get larger recoveries with individual claim than through a class action lawsuit. A class action settlement generally provides all claimants similar amounts in damages, even if their cases and repair costs vary. In a successful individual lemon law claim, the auto manufacturer reimburses the individual for all costs associated with their specific lemon.
Should I Pursue a Lemon Law Case or a Class Action Settlement?
A class action lawsuit allows multiple people with similar grievances against the same manufacturer to come together and file one complaint instead of multiple individual complaints.
If you chose to accept the gm ignition switch class action settlement or if you did NOT manually opt-out of the class action lawsuit, then you cannot pursue an individual lemon law claim. Through an individual lemon law claim, you have an opportunity to receive compensation for your individual case, instead of splitting up compensation with other claimants.
Without speaking with an experienced lemon law attorney, it is difficult to know if your vehicle qualifies for a lemon law claim. To do so, your GM car must have a substantial defect that cannot be repaired despite several repair attempts to get it fixed. These defects affect a vehicle’s use, value, and or safety. Typically, substantial defects:
- Diminish the value of the vehicle
- Prevent you from driving the vehicle as it was intended to be driven
- Place the driver and others in danger
The problem with your vehicle does not necessarily have to be safety-related to qualify under lemon law. If your car has been out of service for repairs for several cumulative days and the problem still has not been fixed, it may be lemon, regardless of the nature of the car’s issues. Lemon problems can range from engine shutdown to rear camera failure to faulty airbags, inoperable infotainments systems, and much, much more.
Because both the state lemon law and the federal lemon law are complex to interpret, the best way to know if you are eligible to pursue an individual claim is by working with a reputable lemon law attorney who can evaluate your case and determine if you have a valid claim.
A lemon law lawyer can also help you navigate important class action lawsuit deadlines so that you can opt-out on time and pursue an individual claim. Keep in mind that you cannot pursue an individual claim for a specific vehicle defect if that defect is included in any class-action suits that you did not opt out of before the deadline.
Contact The Lemon Law Experts
As California’s premier lemon law firm, the Lemon Law Experts have helped consumers across the state of California recover millions of dollars in refunds and cash for their lemons. Our team specializes exclusively in lemon law and we have plenty of experience representing clients with cases like yours.
Going up against a large manufacturer like GM can seem intimidating, but it does not have to be. If you believe that you may have purchased or leased a GM lemon, or have any questions about an unrelated situation, do not hesitate to reach out to the Lemon Law Experts as soon as possible.