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Concerns Raised in Government Tests over Safety of Chevrolet’s Volt

A recent article by MSNBC reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it’s investigating fire risks associated with Chevrolet’s Volt automobile after the model caught fire in a government safety crash test.

Investigations seem to point to the vehicles lithium-ion batteries; as a result, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is conducting additional testing on Chevrolet Volts, and has asked the manufacturers of other electric vehicles to provide information on the protocols they have established for discharging and handling their lithium-ion batteries. Continued investigations are being done for the purpose of discovering any potential methods of mitigating fire risks in electric vehicles.

The Chevrolet Volt is manufactured under General Motors’ (GM’s) brand of Chevrolet automobiles. General Motors is an American automobile manufacturing corporation, and is the second-largest automobile production company in the world. GM’s business extends to 157 countries, and sells automobiles under the brands Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Opel, Vauxhall, and Holden.

GM spokesperson Greg Martin stated publicly that “this particular unique instance is nothing a consumer would experience in the normal operation of the vehicle.” Although no similar fires have yet been reported by consumers of the Chevrolet Volt outside of testing conditions, the fact still remains that a potential for hazard still exists. A number of situations have arisen involving garage fires from Chevrolet Volts, but the NHTSA’s public statement asserted that the NHTSA does not believe the Volt or other electric vehicles are at a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles.

When a company manufactures a product to be marketed to the public, the company is responsible for ensuring the safety of those products. There are three main types of Illinois product liability claims:

1. A manufacturing defect, which generally occurs when an otherwise safe product is assembled carelessly;
2. A design defect, which occurs when, no matter how well the product is put together, its intent or layout is inherently dangerous;
3. A failure to warn, which can occur when a product markets a product that they know to be potentially hazardous, and fails to warn consumers of the latent danger.

In the situation involving the Chevrolet Volt’s lithium-ion battery, the potentially hazardous battery is a form of a design defect. The corporation producing the product may therefore be held legally responsible if the product causes injury to consumers, even if the manufacturer was not negligent in making that product defective.

If injuries do occur outside of testing conditions and personal injury lawsuits are brought on behalf of victims of fires in Chevrolet Volts, the injured party must prove that the car manufacturer’s conduct fell below the current standards of care used in general practices of car manufacturing. Given that Chevrolet is now aware of this potential danger, they must take all appropriate steps to ensure the safety of their product, or else face the potential of liability if injuries arise from Volt fires.

Our Illinois personal injury lawyers have handled numerous Illinois products liability cases, including having won a $3 million settlement against a car manufacturer that improperly designed the fuel delivery system of a vehicle, resulting in a fuel-fed fire after a head-on collision that killed the occupants of the vehicle.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a dangerous or defective product, contact an attorney immediately to be apprised of your rights under the law. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries if the manufacturing corporation is to blame.

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