Car Rental Agencies Warned GM About Airbag Defects

Bloomberg news reports that General Motors Co., (GM) may have ignored warning signs about the risks of airbag failures in cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt. In the fall of 2006, Bloomberg reports, a Chevrolet Cobalt rental rolled over in an accident and the airbag never deployed. The driver died at the scene.

The car was rented from a Vanguard Alamo located in California and though the driver was wearing a seatbelt, the failed airbag led a Vanguard insurance adjuster to write a letter to GM notifying them that they should inspect the vehicle for possible defects. ­

Bloomberg was able to obtain the documents after filing a successful Freedom of Information Act request. The request also revealed that other rental car companies such as Enterprise Holdings Inc., had requested that GM investigate Cobalt vehicles because the airbags had failed to deploy in numerous accidents.

The Bloomberg report accessed transcripts of phone calls, letters and police reports that revealed that many rental companies were tracking and reporting defects in Cobalt rentals. The report also revealed that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which had been given access to all of those documents, may have failed in its duties.

The data from rental car companies are a virtual gold mine for investigators because rental car companies put many miles on vehicles quickly and their accident trends reveal patterns and potential defects. Unfortunately, GM ignored the reports filed by various rental car companies and failed to identify the airbag defects and ignition switch issues early on.

The extent of GMs knowledge about the defects in their vehicles will be critical in the lawsuits developing against the auto giant. If you or someone you love has been injured in a GM vehicle due to an ignition switch or airbag defect, please call the Knoxville, TN car accident attorneys at (865) 247-0080. Our Tennessee personal injury lawyers  offer free consultations.