A new investigation indicates that rental car companies warned General Motors (GM) about a potential defect in the Chevy Cobalt nearly seven years ago.
Vanguard Car Rental USA Inc. contacted GM about a fatal rollover crash that occurred in Sept. 2006. A man had rented a Chevy Cobalt from Vanguard’s Alamo unit, he lost control of the car and the vehicle rolled over. The driver was wearing his seatbelt, but the airbag did not deploy – which could have contributed to his death.
A Vanguard claims adjuster wrote to GM and advised the company that “it is imperative that you open a claim and inspect this vehicle for possible defects,” according to Bloomberg.
Using customer-service transcripts, warranty records, letters and police reports, Bloomberg found multiple instances in which rental companies warned GM about a potential problem.
Enterprise Holdings Inc., Avis Budget Group Inc. and Hertz Global Holdings Inc. also has Cobalts in their rental fleets that were involved in collisions.
In 2005, a Saturn Ion rented from Enterprise was involved in a wreck that left two people dead and one seriously injured. A police investigation attributed the accident to a brake and steering wheel defect. Another crash in 2006 involved a Chevy Cobalt rented from Enterprise; the airbag did not deploy during a front-impact crash and the driver was killed.
Enterprise contacted GM in 2006 after the decedent’s family requested that the vehicle be inspected for a potential defect.
Although there was an effort to gather information about the accidents, there was never enough evidence to open a formal defect investigation. It is estimated that nine fatal collisions currently being investigated involved a rented GM vehicle.
To date, GM has recalled nearly 6 million vehicles due to issues with the ignition switch that could lead to airbag failure.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident caused by a vehicle defect, the victim may be entitled to file a claim for damages. The product liability attorneys at Simien & Simien can help you determine if the merits of your incident warrant filing a claim.