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Car defects possibly to blame for some accidents

Nebraska drivers know that not all accidents have clear-cut evidence that points to the person responsible for the incident. There are accidents that seem unexplainable and where driving under the influence or while distracted or speeding are not clear factors.

In some of these fatal accident cases, where drivers have been arrested, convicted and sometimes even served jail time, car defects have later surfaced as possible causes for the motor vehicle accidents, prompting judges to reconsider the cases. In 2014, there were 64 million vehicles recalled in the U.S., including 2.6 million by General Motors for defective ignition switches.

In one case related to a GM recall for defective ignition switch, a 25-year-old Pennsylvania woman pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and served three months in jail after her 16-year-old passenger was killed when she lost control of her car in 2010. The woman claimed she was not speeding at the time of the incident and that her ignition switch had gone into accessory mode, cutting power to the brakes and steering. A judge recently vacated her guilty plea, citing new evidence that had been discovered, which was the GM recall.

Another woman's negligent homicide plea was reversed after evidence suggested the accident, which killed her fiancée, was caused by a defect in her Saturn. In yet another case, a New York man who was being investigated for a serious accident that killed his best friend when they were both 18 and left the man with a brain injury and no recall of the accident was arrested in 2014 in relation to the case, even though the man has received an undisclosed settlement from GM due to the recall.

In cases where a vehicle defect might be a factor in an injury accident, a lawyer representing an injured victim might review the police investigation report and other evidence in order to determine who should bear responsibility. A personal injury lawsuit filed against those parties could seek compensation for medical expenses and other damages.

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