As of Tuesday, August 26, the program designed by GM to compensate the victims of accidents related to the 2.6 million cars recalled due to faulty ignition switches has received claims for 107 deaths.
The fund’s manager – lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw similar funds that compensated victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks and 2010 BP oil spill – said, through his spokeswoman Amy Weiss, the 107 are among the 309 claims filed so far. According to General Motors data, only 13 fatalities have been linked to the recall. The program started accepting claims on August 1 and will continue to do so until December 31.
The automaker gave Feinberg and his team a free hand in evaluating the claims. Before marking it eligible for compensation, the lawyer and his aids will have to investigate and determine if the ignition switch was actually responsible for the crash that led to a serious physical injury or death. Feinberg is also allowed to establish the compensation to be awarded in each particular case, with General Motors claiming the fund has not been capped.
The No.1 US automaker – publicly panned and under numerous federal investigations in relation to the recall – has so far set aside around $400 million for the program, with eligible claims for deaths most likely being awarded at least $1 million – but the amounts could climb steeply after factoring in the children or other dependants the deceased person had.