Two Death, Four Injury Claims Approved By GM Last Week

The number of deaths and injuries linked to defective ignition switches in General Motors vehicles continued to tick upward last week, with two death claims and four injury claims being approved by the company’s victim compensation plan.

Reuters reports that since the program began accepting claims on August 1 it has received 1,851 claims for deaths and serious injury.

Of those claims 67 have been deemed eligible for compensation so far; 32 related to deaths and 35 for injuries.

According to the weekly report submitted by Ken Feinberg, the lawyer tasked with heading the plan, the number of claims received for injuries and deaths was up about 4% from one week ago.

Feinberg has previously said that he expected submissions to level off in the next several months before the December 31 filing deadline.

So far, 40 offers for compensation have been made, and 28 have been accepted.

GM’s initial tally of 13 deaths, which was officially doubled by the number of approved claims last month, only included drivers and front-seat passengers who were killed when their airbags failed to deploy because the ignition had inadvertently been turned off.

Feinberg, who has been given free rein to set eligibility for compensation, has said that backseat passengers, as well as passengers in other cars and pedestrians who were harmed by an out-of-control GM vehicle, may also submit claims for consideration.

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.

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.

Six new death, injury claims approved by GM switch fund [Reuters]

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