What happens when an auto safety flaw is not discovered in time and people have been blamed for the unexplained accidents and even charged with serious crimes?
Well, the authorities cite “newly discovered evidence” and erase the guilt sentence of said people – though some of them by the time they are restored in their rights have already gone through the dramatic incarceration. A growing number of people in the US has been caught in a mind boggling scenario – they were found guilty of sometimes serious crimes that were actually stemming from the auto safety issues that led to scandals at General Motors and other carmakers. Last year alone a record tally of 64 million vehicles has been recalled – many of the cars for issues that were one decade or older. Now experts believe a rise in proceedings over wrongful convictions should be expected soon. “When defendants claimed their cars shut off or sped up all by themselves, the claims seemed too far out to create a doubt that was reasonable. Now we know better,” comments University of Michigan law professor Erik Gordon.
When talking about GM’s ignition switch recalls, the initial safety campaign run by the automaker involved a defect that was internally known for a decade or so before delivering a public notice. GM is now using its victims’ compensation fund to address some of the issues of people being wrongly convicted, and expects the settlements to reach around $625 million. But the company also declines any responsibility in cases of individual crime charging, claiming to be “the responsibility of prosecutors, courts and the criminal-justice system to determine if charges are appropriate against individuals based on their conduct in a particular situation”.