Products Liability

Woman survives accident after 6 days trapped in car, gets recall notice and sues GM

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Kristin Hopkins survived an accident that left her trapped in her upside-down vehicle in freezing conditions for nearly six days last year. Finally a passer-by happened to spot her, some 140 feet off the road, at the bottom of a wooded embankment.

However, she had to have both legs amputated and, while she was recuperating and learning to walk on her prosthetic legs in July 2014, she got a recall notice from General Motors. It said the crash avoidance system on her 2009 Chevy Malibu could be defective, reports Reuters.

Last month she received another recall notice about a possible issue with the electronic power steering, reports the Denver Post.

In a federal lawsuit filed last week in Denver, she contends that both the electronic stability control and the power steering on her vehicle failed her “at the moment she needed them most,” as she was driving on U.S. 285 in mountainous terrain at about 65 mph on April 27, 2014.

“We will investigate this matter and work to understand what happened and why,” said GM in a written statement provided to Reuters. The company says it is still “learning details of this tragic accident.”

The lawsuit says documents GM gave the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show the company knew of the Malibu electronic stability control issue in 2008, the Post reports.

“These are real lives being affected by corporate decisions,” said attorney Kurt Zaner, who is representing Hopkins. “Maybe this teaches GM a lesson—don’t wait so long to issue a recall.”

Related coverage:

CNN: “Colorado mother rescued after 5 days in wrecked car will lose feet”

KUSA: “Woman trapped in wrecked car describes ordeal, recovery”

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