Mykia Jordan has no memory of the car accident that put her in a coma for three weeks, left a large scar across her jaw and caused the limp that forces her to walk with a cane at 23.
She only knows what the police and others told her — that in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, with her 3-month-old son strapped in a car seat, she lost control of her Chevrolet Cobalt on a freeway ramp in Detroit. It crashed into a cement barrier and overturned, crushing the roof around her. The air bags did not deploy.
She missed a year of work and school while she recovered from a head injury and many broken bones, breathing through a tracheostomy tube and relearning how to walk. The baby survived with hardly a scratch, remarkable fortune that she says helps blunt the pain she still feels in her leg every day.
Lawyers and investigators now believe Ms. Jordan’s accident, on Oct. 14, 2012, was the fault of a defective ignition switch in Cobalts and several other models of General Motors cars.
As such, Ms. Jordan personifies the next challenge in a safety crisis that has led G.M. to recall 2.6 million vehicles after years of inaction: how to deal with hundreds of injury claims that the company has refused to discuss or characterize. Some experts predict the cost to the company could run into the billions of dollars, exceeding the payouts related to deaths linked to the defect.
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