Deaths Tied To Defective Ignition Switch Now Double GM’s Earliest Reports

Just two months after the General Motors victim compensation plan began accepting death claims related to the decades-long ignition switch defect the toll has doubled what the car manufacturers initially acknowledged publicly.

Reuters reports the number of deaths officially linked to the defective switches now sits at 27 according to a weekly report issued by Ken Feinberg, the lawyer appointed to the head up the fund.

Of the claims submitted 52 have been deemed eligible for compensation, including the 27 deaths and 25 injuries.

In all the program has received a total of 1,371 claims for deaths and injuries, that’s a 21% increase from the 1,130 claims filed last week.

Claims will continue to be accepted and investigated until December 31.

GM’s initial tally of 13 deaths only included drivers and front-seat passengers who were killed when their airbags failed to deploy because the ignition had inadvertently been turned off. That means that passengers in the backseat were excluded, as they would have died regardless of whether or not the airbags deployed.

But if the ignition defect itself was the cause of the accident — the engine turns off while driving, causing the driver to panic and taking away the vehicle’s power steering and brakes — then it is responsible for any injuries to the backseat passengers, right? That’s the approach being taken by the compensation fund.

Additionally, the fund is considering claims from pedestrians and people in other cars that were harmed by an out-of-control GM vehicle.

When the fund was launched over the summer, GM said there would be no cap to the claims, but that compensation would be tied to the level of injury and loss experienced. An approved death claim is expected to result in an offer of compensation for at least $1 million, plus payments of $300,000 to surviving family members.

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.

The claimants are not obligated to accept the compensation, but if they do take the money they give up their rights to pursue legal action against GM with regard to the ignition defect.

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.

Deaths linked to GM ignition-switch defect rise to 27 [Reuters]

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