After in February GM started recalling cars equipped with defective ignition switches, linked to at least 54 crashes and 13 deaths, there was also set up a plan to compensate the victims.
General Motors, which has recalled at least 20 million cars this year, with around 6 million of them linked to the faulty ignition switch, also hired Kenneth Feinberg, known for setting up similar victims funds after the September 11 terrorist attack and the 2010 BP oil spill.
The final form of the compensation program is not yet operational, but new details have been released, during the latest round of congressional testimony by GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra on Wednesday and after that from interviews with plaintiffs lawyers.
It looks like the company could ultimately move to compensate many more than the 13 families of victims, which were linked so far as fatalities to the recall, as it looks like the company could allow entries in the program from more injury and death cases.
The program, which should start accepting claims since August 1, should be announced by next month, according to Barra, which added the fund would also be used for claims involving previous settlements and accidents that happened before GM’s exit from bankruptcy.
While Gm has so far only acknowledged 13 fatalities related to the 2.6 million cars recall, many more – including federal officials – claim the number to be far higher, and on Wednesday, US Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado added that from her private investigation with GM employees, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigators and access to documents, she estimates the number of deaths to be as high as 100.