Attorney Patrick Bailey Comments on GM Apology and the Possibility of Compensation for Victims

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Recently a video featuring Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, offered details regarding the latest developments on the company's massive vehicle recall. Attorney Patrick Bailey sees hopeful signs in the video for victims of accidents resulting from the ignition switch defect which lead to the recall.

how they handle fines, how they respond to a potential criminal investigation and how they compensate victims will indicate a great deal about the new GM under Barra's leadership

The Barra video is available from a wide variety of media sources including this CNN report by Chris Isidore ("Barra on recall: 'terrible things happened'") published on March 18, 2014. In the video, Barra confirms that the Department of Justice and at least two congressional panels are looking into the effectiveness of the recall and whether or not the company did everything possible to prioritize safety. The ignition switch recall has, thus far, lead to a recall of millions of GM vehicles over the last several months starting in 2013 and continuing into 2014. And, according to this March 29, 2014 New York Times story by Christopher Jensen ("G.M. Recall Total in 2014 Reaches 4.8 Million"), the company has announced millions of recalls that are not related to the ignition switch defect.

"They seem to be recalling a tremendous number of vehicles. Whether this is a public relations tactic or not, they are demonstrating a welcome commitment to safety," Bailey says. But, he says, "even more welcoming was the presence of compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg at the recent congressional hearings on the recall. This indicates that GM is actively considering how it will compensate victims of crashes that resulted from their defective vehicles."

According to a variety of sources, including Josh Sanburn's April 3, 2014 TIME magazine article "What is Life Worth? Attorney Kenneth Feinberg has the Answer," Feinberg has been retained by GM. He is a lawyer well-known for identifying fair compensation for families who have lost loved ones in catastrophes.

"By retaining Feinberg, GM may be trying to show that they are serious about offering compensation to victims' families. Barra has apologized for the tragedies that GM's vehicles have caused and is saying all the right things about how their recall process will change. But what they do, how they handle fines, how they respond to a potential criminal investigation and how they compensate victims will indicate a great deal about the new GM under Barra's leadership," Bailey says.

Bailey has been a personal injury attorney for the last three decades and has a particular focus on catastrophic injury cases, manufacturer defect cases and airline crash litigation which often involves lawsuits related to wrongful death. He says that bringing in a compensation expert like Kenneth Feinberg is "typically done after liability has been determined. Victims of this GM ignition switch problem may be reassured that GM has admitted the ignition switch problem may be linked to at least 13 deaths. Victims should also be assured since Feinberg is involved. His presence does not guarantee that a family will get compensated but does indicate that it may be possible."

The ignition switch defect, according to many sources, has been linked to 13 deaths though GM has not yet formally admitted liability. In Jim Puzzanghera's April 1, 2014 Los Angeles Times story "GM victims' families, lawmakers blast recall delay, want tougher law" he writes that the ignition "switch, which unintentionally can turn off the vehicle and disable its airbags, has been linked to 13 fatal accidents."

Bailey says that "the link between the ignition switch defect and those 13 fatalities is still under investigation. But the pressure is mounting on GM even if the problem predates the restructured company. If they are perceived as shirking responsibility, their recent recovery may be short lived. They are in a very delicate position and, in the last several weeks, have been doing the right things. The families of victims should take some reassurance from that but are also going to continue putting pressure on the company, as they should."

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Betsy Passarelli
since: 09/2009
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Bailey and Partners - Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorneys
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