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Some lawmakers and safety advocates who have been pushing for criminal penalties for auto executives who fail to disclose deadly automobile defects hit a brick wall this week. The Senate Committee on Commerce, who heard testimony from both victims and auto executives, voted down a proposal that would make it a specific crime to knowingly conceal information on safety defects. The Committee also voted down a proposed law that would bar used car dealers from selling cars with unrepaired recalls. In essence, the Senate permitted the auto industry to continue hiding deadly defects with impunity. This has been a record year for recalls - tens of millions of cars have been recalled and many still have not been repaired due to the lack of available parts. The auto industry rebelled against what it called "criminalizing the business of manufacturing" in a document given to lawmakers before the Committee on Commerce met. The threat of criminal prosecution with real jail time, not probation, for crimes such as failing to disclose a dangerously defective product and for selling garbage financial instruments to unsuspecting pension funds, has a tendency to curb bad behavior and protect the public. Unfortunately, until the specter of jail occurs, nothing will change.
Getting compensation after a crash usually requires proving that the other driver was negligent or breaking a traffic law. Doing…