Following February recall of 2.6 million cars equipped with defective ignition switches and the subsequent scandal, the No. 1 US automaker – GM – decided to set up a victims’ compensation fund.
General Motors, which acknowledged that it had known about the potentially fatal issue for at least a decade is facing numerous lawsuits, federal probes and decided to set up the fund to compensate the victims stemming from accidents linked to the defective part. The faulty switch can cause an engine shutdown while driving, with potentially catastrophic loss of critical safety systems, including the airbags.
Kenneth Feinberg, a lawyer with expensive experience in the management of such programs (implicated with the funds that compensated victims’ of the 9/11 terror attacks and 2010 BP oil spill) has been tapped to independently manage the claims. According to his office, which issued the – now traditional – weekly update on the program, the faulty ignition switch built into GM vehicles has two more victims on its death list – bringing the total to 35 (before the program, GM only acknowledged 13!).
As of late last week, the fund, which started accepting claims on August 1, has received a total of 2,180 claims for injuries and deaths – an increase of 3% since last week. The tally currently stands at 225 claims with fatalities, 139 with catastrophic injuries and 1,816 with less-serious injuries requiring hospitalization.