If an individual files for bankruptcy protection because of mounting hospital bills, for instance, depending on the type of bankruptcy, you can have all of your debts wiped clean. The same thing apparently goes for major automakers, even while they are receiving taxpayer money to help them restructure.
With the help of the Treasury Department, Chrysler is wiping clean any liability for consumers who have pending product-liability lawsuits against their defective automobiles or parts.
Reportedly, the plan to do away with product liability claims was settled on during negotiations between the Treasury Department and Fiat. Chrysler chairman and CEO, Bob Nardelli, said that claimants would probably get nothing.
Fiat had initially been willing to assume Chrysler’s product liability claims before the Obama administration steered the company into bankruptcy.
What does that mean for the hundreds of consumers who have pending claims for being injured by exploding gas tanks, a roof that crushes in because the standards are not strong enough, a seat belt that doesn’t work, or a back hatch that flies open upon impact? It means that they are left out in the cold.
300 consumers who have sued the automaker over injury of the loss of life, along with 160 people who have cases or settlements against Chrysler will likely see their cases stayed, says Ad Hoc Committee of Consumer Victims of General Motors counsel. Medical bills can easily go over a million dollars with the aggregate value of claims sought by 300 plaintiffs at about $1.25 billion.
As Florida auto product defect attorneys and personal injury lawyers, we’ve seen more than our fair share of injuries that should have never happened in the first place. If you are lucky, they won’t happen to you. But that does not remove the liability from the automaker who, in a risk/benefit analysis, found it was more economical to leave a defective part in a car than to agree to a recall. Our government sometimes seems like the tail is wagging the dog.
Congress is the last hope to put aside a fund for these injured people and to cover the future injuries that might occur from the approximately 40 million GM and Chrysler cars on the road. Call your member of Congress. And think about selling that automobile, knowing they have thrown injured consumers under the bus and used taxpayer money to do so.