GM Ignition Switch Compensation Fund Received Claims For 107 Deaths In Less Than A Month

Less than a month after General Motors’ victim compensation plan began accepting claims, the company has received notice of 107 deaths possibly related to its ongoing ignition switch defect. That figure far surpasses the 13 deaths the company previously acknowledged and the 74 deaths one report found could be tied to the defect.

According to Reuters, the GM victim compensation plan has received a total of 309 claims in the first 26-days.

The program, which began accepting claims on August 1 and will continue until December 31, aims to provide relief for the victims and families affected by ignition switch issues that resulted in the recall of 2.6 million vehicles and a number of federal probes related to the company’s 13-year delay in acknowledging the problem.

While the number of claims submitted to the plan already appears high, lawyers representing a number of victims tell Reuters it will continue to grow steadily over the next several months.

Jere Beasley, who represents multiple claim-filers, says that some lawyers and victims may wait to file claims until the first round of compensation has been offered. Officials with GM previously said they expect the first compensation checks to reach consumers in the fall.

The submitted claims will be evaluated by lawyer-in-charge Ken Feinberg and his staff to determine if the ignition switch was in fact responsible for causing the injury or death. If the claim is deemed authentic, Feinberg will calculate the compensation the family or individual can receive.

The compensation plan, which was unveiled in late June, does not put a cap on the payment amount victims could receive. Instead those affected by the faulty switch could receive anywhere from $20,000 to double-digit millions depending a number of factors including loss of wages, severity of injuries and more.

According to the plan’s formula, families of those who died are entitled to at least $1 million, plus the calculation of lifetime earning lost, and $300,000 for a spouse and for each dependent.

Consumers who suffered life-altering injuries could receive even more when the cost of lifetime medical care, lost earnings power and other factors are considered.

The plan also addresses consumers who faced less-severe injuries. Those who were treated at a hospital or an outpatient medical facility within 48 hours of the accident are eligible for a claim.

The formula for that claim is $20,000 for one night in the hospital; $70,000 for two to seven overnights, $170,000 for eight to 15 overnights, with a maximum of $500,000 for 32 or more overnights. Those treated on an outpatient basis could receive a maximum of $20,000.

Additionally, the plan provides for payout for accidents that have yet to occur. The protocol will cover crashes that happen through December 31, 2014.

The compensation program covers approximately 1.6 million model-year 2003-2007 recalled vehicles manufactured with an ignition switch defect and approximately 1 million model year 2008-2011 recalled vehicles that may have been repaired with a recalled ignition switch.

While GM officials are hopeful the compensation program will deter victims from seeking relief through the courts, they say filing a complaint doesn’t necessarily mean consumers forfeit their right to sue.

Feinberg said in June that victims only waive their right to sue if they accept the payment from GM.

GM ignition-switch fund receives claims for more than 100 deaths [Reuters]