The largest US automaker – General Motors – has seen its compensation program for victims of ignition-switch crashes very successful so far, with victims agreeing to accept the compensation offers and sideline potential lawsuits, said the outside lawyer chosen to handle the fund.
Last February, GM announced a recall that would encompass 2.6 million cars, all equipped with defective ignition switches – they would render the car powerless by shutting down the engine, cutting power to critical safety systems, including the airbags. After a huge scandal ensued after the regulators and public found the company was late at least a decade with the safety campaign, among other measures the company also established a victims’ compensation program, tapping Kenneth Feinberg – which directed such funds successfully – to lead it. The lawyer has recently declared that GM’s program offered settlement payments to 125 accident victims, which include the known 50 fatality victims. A total of 3,068 payment requests were made so far, with 1,294 already rejected because little or no evidence was brought that the ignition switch flaw caused an accident. Additionally, he is seeking the necessary papers for around 50 percent of the remaining 1,650 claims and believes to work on the cases “well into the spring.”
Feinberg commented that so far, the eligible claims that were offered compensation have elected to agree to it voluntarily. “So far, at least, every single eligible claimant awarded compensation has elected voluntarily to take it,” Feinberg told Bloomberg. GM has already set aside $400 million for the resolved claims and said it could purse another $200 million if needed – with the deadline to fill claims having now passed (January 31).