GM ignition switch fatality count at 119 image

The General Motors ignition switch victims’ compensation fund announced that last week another two claims involving deaths linked to the defective part have been approved.

The fund’s quest to alleviate the victims and loved ones is nearing its end, with the compensation program run by outside attorney Ken Feinberg – who also headed such funds for the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks and 2010 BP oil spill – adding it has also approved six new injury claims. The total for the latter cases now stands at 243 – with 14 for serious injuries and 229 for less severe injuries that still required hospital or outbound treatment. The toll on death cases now stands at 119, far away from what General Motors was claiming last year, when it only identified 13 such cases. The program is nearing its conclusion of a year-old review of ignition deaths and injuries, with a total of 81 of the 4,342 claims submitted – or 1.8 percent – still under scrutiny. The fund said it would conclude its work by the end of July. GM is going to pay at least $1 million for each fatality case and more if the victim had dependants and has already secured $550 million for the needed payments.

GM last year announced it was calling back 2.6 million older cars equipped with flawed ignition switches, that could cause an engine shut down and have a catastrophic loss of power for critical safety systems, including the airbags. With the company aware for around a decade before making the recall, the US Justice Department is nearing a decision on whether to charge GM for a criminal offense linked to the delay – with the company most likely heading towards a guilty plea or “deferred prosecution” agreement that would also include a fine of more than $1.2 billion.