Motor vehicle defects have been a big problem over the past few years, with GM recalling more vehicles in 2014 than it sold in five years and Takata recalling more than 17 million vehicles because of air bag problems that could kill or injure occupants. One disturbing trend that has been present in many of the recall situations is that there is often evidence to suggest that the product manufacturer knew of problems well before the defects were announced to the public. These vehicle defects have caused deaths, but manufacturers kept quiet and didn’t alert the public for years.
One way to potentially solve this issue is to create greater rewards for people working at auto parts manufacturers and car companies if they come forward and report wrongdoing. To that end, the federal government is moving forward on putting whistleblower incentives into place. Whistleblower incentives have been tremendously effective at getting employees to come forward and report when the government is being defrauded of money. Hopefully, incentives to auto workers could have a similar effect at getting workers to come forward and reveal public safety issues.
When a car or any vehicle parts turn out to be defective, an Atlanta product defect lawyer can help those who have been hurt to take legal action. Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you if you were the victim of a motor vehicle accident that happened because of problems with a car or its parts.
Encouraging Whistleblowers to Report Dangerous Auto Defects
The Claims Journal reports that the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee put forth a proposal to offer financial incentives to auto industry employees. The legislation would allow any employee, contractor, parts supplier, or car dealership to come forward and share original information on product defects or on violations of U.S. Transportation Department or U.S. Justice Department reporting requirements.
Those who come forward are protected from retaliation and would also be entitled to receive up to 30 percent of the penalties that result from a federal enforcement action once the penalties reach $1 million or more. This could be a very substantial amount of money in the case of serious violations. General Motors, for example, paid a $35 million fine because it delayed reporting problems with its faulty ignition switch.
Thousands of injury claims and 379 wrongful death claims have been filed against GM- and if a whistleblower had come forward years ago to report the problem, maybe these hundreds of people would still be alive. This is just one of many examples where a whistleblower could save lives by speaking up.
The legislation received unanimous backing from the U.S. Senate Panel, with 13 Republican and Democratic members in favor of it. It now moves to the full Senate for debate. Hopefully, if and when the law is passed, it will have an impact on encouraging people to come forward and prevent tragedies before they occur.
Those who have already been hurt should not hesitate to hold the car manufacturer and/or making of defective parts responsible. An Atlanta products liability lawyer can help you to learn more about how to take legal action.
The Atlanta product liability lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused by a defective vehicle part. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.