General Motors will pay compensation for 19 deaths linked to a faulty ignition switch, according to multiple news sources. This is more than the 13 deaths they originally estimated, and some lawmakers have estimate the death toll is close to 100.
According to the Automotive News, independent compensation expert, Kenneth Feinberg said the GM fund has now received 445 claims, including 125 for deaths, 58 for serious injuries and 262 for brief hospitalization or outpatient care. They have since approved 31 claims, including 19 for deaths. According to CNN, most of the remaining claims are still being reviewed. Camille Biros, the deputy administrator of the program, told Automotive News that no claims have been rejected thus far.
GM has admitted knowing about the ignition switch problem for more than a decade, yet it didn’t begin recalling the switches in small cars until earlier this year. GM’s ignition-switch recall began in February and expanded to about 2.6 million cars, including the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion. The faulty ignition switches can slip out of the “run” position into “accessory” or “off,” cutting off power to the engine. That can disable power steering, brakes and also air bags if there’s a crash.
GM’s decision not to recall the cars until early this year, despite evidence that some employees knew of the problem more than a decade earlier, triggered numerous lawsuits and investigations, including a criminal probe by the U.S. Justice Department.
Greater scrutiny to GM’s handling of vehicle issues led to a stream of recalls; the company has issued 65 this year for a total of nearly 30 million vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also has been under scrutiny for missing signs of the broader ignition-switch failures and passing on opening a formal defect investigation in 2007 and again in 2010.
GM set aside $400 million to fund the compensation program, although it is possible another $200 million may need to be set aside. There is no cap on the total cost for the number of claims to be accepted. Feinberg started accepting claims Aug. 1. The deadline to submit claims is Dec. 31.
If you have been injured in a car accident that was the result of a problem with a Chevy Cobalt or another GM vehicle, contact the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law at 855-866-5529. The personal injury lawyers at Munley Law are experts on the GM recall case, as well as other car, truck and bus accidents.