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Defects responsible for accidents blamed on reckless driving

New Jersey residents are likely aware that millions of cars, trucks and SUVs produced by several automakers have been recalled in recent months due to problems including faulty ignition switches and defective airbags. These recalls were ordered after the problems were linked to fatal motor vehicle accidents across the country, but experts say that many other crashes initially blamed on reckless driving may also have been caused by these defects.

One of the largest recalls covered 2.6 million General Motors vehicles with faulty ignition switches. The problem caused the ignition switches to move into the accessory position without warning, which cuts power to a vehicle's airbags and steering and braking systems. This can lead to accidents that bear the hallmarks of a distracted or impaired driver, and car accident investigators are often dismissive of claims that a vehicle defect was to blame.

An examination of court records has linked four accidents to the defective GM ignition switches, but experts feel that this may just be the beginning. One such case involved a Pennsylvania woman who entered a guilty plea to reckless driving and vehicular manslaughter charges after a 2010 accident caused by a faulty ignition switch claimed the life of her 16-year-old passenger. The woman was released from custody in September 2015 after spending three months in jail.

Personal injury attorneys often conduct their own accident investigations when any questions persist about what may have caused an accident. When defendants claim that a mechanical defect was responsible, attorneys may check recall databases to see if the vehicles involved had any known defects. Attorneys may also review police reports, witness statements and any footage recorded by nearby surveillance cameras to get a fuller understanding of the events leading up to a crash.

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