Staying Abreast of Vehicle Safety Recalls

23 Jan

TXDS 1-23-14Vehicle safety recalls often have a huge impact on the lives of drivers, and perhaps no more so than in the case of Texas’ Candice Anderson. Here is the story of how an auto recall turned her life upside down.

Candice Anderson’s Accident

Back in November 2014, Candice Anderson was driving a Saturn Ion, manufactured by General Motors (G.M.) with her fiancée, Gene Erickson, riding in the passenger seat. The car veered off the road in a rural part of east Texas, crashing into a tree. The airbags did not deploy and Gene died from the impact. Candice was 21 years old at the time of the crash, and she suffered serious injuries as well.

 The Court’s Decision

As a result of this crash, Candice was formally charged and she plead guilty to negligent homicide. After the court’s decision, she served five years of probation, paid thousands of dollars in fines, and did hundreds of hours of community service. In addition to these penalties, she also lived with a decade of guilt believing that she killed the love of her life.

General Motors Admission

After 10 years, G.M. publically admitted that Gene’s death was linked to an ignition switch defect which affected millions of vehicles. Candice’s car was equipped with the faulty ignition switch, which has been linked to a loss of vehicular power and disabled steering, airbags, and brakes. Dozens of deaths have been linked to this mechanical failure.

Concealing the Truth

One of the most disturbing facts of this case is that G.M. conducted an internal review of the crash in 2007 before Candice pled guilty and determined that its car was the cause of Gene’s death. However, GM never notified Candice or her lawyer about these findings.

“Had I known at the time that G.M. knew of these issues and has since admitted to such, I do not believe the grand jury would have indicted her for intoxication manslaughter,” said Leslie Poynter Dixon, the prosecuting district attorney.

Senator Richard Blumenthal added, “Her plight demonstrates just how far the consequences of General Motors’ concealment go, hurting not just direct victims of defective cars but also those who were blamed for the accidents even when G.M. knew full well what the cause had been.”

How You Can Stay Safe

It’s important to stay up-to-date on current auto recalls to know if any recalls affect the vehicle you drive. Head over to safercar.gov, a site operated by the United States Department of Transportation, to search for your car’s VIN number. Automakers typically alert owners about relevant recalls and offer free repairs, however, it is always a good idea to do your independent research and keep yourself informed as well.

If your vehicle is included in an auto recall, contact your local dealership to schedule an appointment. Provide the dealership with a copy of your recall notification letter and ask a lot of questions as you go over the details of the suggested repairs.

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