General Motors, which entered a deep safety crisis after failing for many years to recall cars equipped with defective ignition switches, has released the details over its planned victims compensation fund.
Back in February, the No.1 US automaker ordered a recall that would encompass 2.6 million cars, which were linked to at least 54 crashes and 13 deaths. After numerous probes and investigations from federal authorities, it was revealed the recall was long overdue and people at GM had knowledge of the issue as far back as at least 2003. While the company subsequently issued several other recalls that relate to the ignition switch, the fund will only be used to compensate victims and families that had accidents from this particular recall.
“This program is designed to help claimants. This program is not designed to punish General Motors. If people want punitive damages, if they want to use litigation to go after General Motors, then voluntarily they should not submit a claim,” Feinberg said.
Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer hired by GM to set up the fund has announced that each family who had somebody die in an accident stemming from the defective part will be awarded at least $1 million, with an additional $300,000 for a spouse and each dependent of a fatality victim. Also, other circumstances could make the compensation numbers grow, as the company has no limit on what it could pay. Also included are victims who only suffered injuries – whether minor or catastrophic.
According to Feinberg, the window to submit claims will only be opened in between August 1 and December 31, a time slot deemed by many after the announcement as insufficient, especially as several of the accidents happened many years ago.