According to a weekly update, the compensation fund that reviews claims from victims of General Motor’s defective ignition switches has now reached 87 deaths – three more than the previous week – which are connected to the car defect and that are eligible for compensation.
A total of 4,342 cases have been filed since the fund was created in August last year. Around 31% were dismissed as ineligible because there was not enough documentation or proof that the ignition switch was the primary cause of someone’s injury or death. There are still 1,085 cases which are waiting to be reviewed.
The claims arose after GM’s recall of about 2.5 million small cars, a big part of them being Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions from the 2003-2007 model years. The issue with these cars was that the switches slipped in some of the cases from the “on” position to the “accessory”, either from the weight of the key chain or from unintentional contact with the motorist’s leg. This led to a loss of electrical power that would usually go into the car’s steering and air bags.
The ethical issue with GM’s ignition switch recall was that a few of the automaker’s engineers were aware of the problems with these car models since 2003. Moreover, some GM attorneys were introduced to the automaker’s problem at the beginning of 2013, problem that there were deaths which might have been caused by this actual defect. The recall of the problematic cars only began in February 2014.
GM has estimated that the compensation fund would cost the company between $400 million and $600 million.
By Gabriela Florea