Auto Defects — When to Settle with an Auto Company and When to Sue for Product Liability

The slurry of recalls issued last year by General Motors (GM), as well as its handling of a defective ignition switch that has affected millions of vehicles nationwide, has put the company in the public spotlight. If you are following the developments of the story, you may be aware that the company created a compensation program to compensate the families of anyone who has been severely injured or killed in accidents involving a defective ignition switch.

According to reports, the fund’s administrator, Kenneth Feinberg, has approved 50 death claims and 75 injury claims so far and is reviewing or awaiting documentation on another 230 death claims and 2,327 injury claims. The deadline to file a complaint with the compensation program is coming up Jan. 31. According to Feinberg, every current and former vehicle owner should have been made aware of their right to compensation by now.

Families who file a claim with the compensation program and choose to accept the compensation offer will not be eligible to file a lawsuit against GM, seeking any additional damages. This brings up an issue for consumers to think about — when should you accept an offer from an automaker who caused you injury or loss or decline the offer and file a product liability lawsuit?

Every case is different and comes with its unique set of circumstances; so, of course the answer to that question is not cut and dry. But, it is definitely something to think about before accepting a settlement or payout on an injury claim. The only way to make the right decision for your circumstances is to speak with a qualified attorney. An attorney will evaluate the details of your case and help you determine the best course of legal action.

Lawsuits filed in court take a lot longer than filing a claim with a compensation program like the one set up by GM. And, unlike the compensation program which guarantees that you will get a certain amount of money upon approval, it is hard to predict how much money a case will be awarded.

In some cases, it may be more beneficial to accept the payout and move on. But, in other cases such as those involving severe injury, you may consider filing a lawsuit so you can get a higher payout and be able to meet all the financial demands the injury brings.

If you or someone you love has suffered severe injuries or if your loved one has been killed because of a defective auto part, you have the right to just compensation. Before accepting any type of payout, you should discuss all your rights and legal options with an experienced product liability lawyer.

To speak with Miami product liability lawyer about a possible case, please contact Baron, Herskowitz, and Cohen today. We would be happy to review your case for free and help you decide what is best.