General Motors, the largest US automaker and the third-biggest in the world, said it has no intention to further extend the deadline for ignition switch victims’ to file their claims.
The company’s independently run ignition switch compensation program has a deadline of January 31 (extended last year by a month) for people to file claims in relation to accidents linked to the 2.6 million cars ignition switch recall initiated last year. The rejection to further postpone the deadline comes as two US senators have asked the automaker to extend the deadline further. Last year GM acknowledged it was at least a decade overdue with the ignition switch recall, prompting the company to establish a victims’ compensation fund. The safety campaign was the subject of Congressional hearings, numerous lawsuits and has pending investigations – including a criminal one. The defective ignition switches could trigger an engine shutdown while driving, cutting off power to essential safety systems, including the airbags, power steering and power brakes.
As of January 23, the compensation fund has tallied 3,068 claims, with Ken Feinberg, the outside attorney heading the program reporting that 50 of the claims for deceased people had been deemed eligible so far. Two senators, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, vocal critics of the automaker, sent a letter to GM Chief Executive Mary Barra this week to plea for the program’s deadline extension. “We have conducted extensive outreach about the program and contacted more than 5 million current and former owners of the recalled vehicles,” read the rejection statement prepared by GM.