Washington — General Motors Co.’s ignition switch compensation fund on Monday said it has approved 10 new injury claims and no new death claims over the last week.
To date, the fund has approved 57 death claims and 104 injury claims. GM initially said just 13 deaths were related to the issue. Of the injury claims approved, 10 are for the most serious injuries and 94 are for less severe injuries.
The fund’s deputy administrator, Camille Biros, said Monday that the fund has extended 109 offers; 84 have been accepted and five have been rejected. This is the first time the fund has said any claims have been rejected. Biros said 50 payments have been made or are in the process of being made. If a person or victim’s family accepts an award, it must give up its right to sue GM.
Some people have sued GM seeking compensation. GM is fighting in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to bar claims from owners who say they have suffered economic losses and some personal injury claims for crashes that occurred before its June 2009 emergence from bankruptcy as a new government-sponsored firm made from the good assets of “old GM.”
In total, 4,343 claims were submitted by the Jan. 31 deadline, including 478 death claims. To date, 715 total claims have been ruled ineligible, including 107 death claims. A total of 1,445 claims are still under review, while 933 have been submitted without documentation.
A surge in claims before the Jan. 31 deadline means the program will spend until at least “very late spring” before it can rule on all the claims, the fund run by compensation lawyer Ken Feinberg said last month.
Feinberg has said it could take as long as six months from the time the program received the final claim for serious injuries or deaths. Hundreds of the final claims were submitted with little or no paperwork, making it difficult to assess how many may be deemed valid.
GM set up the fund to compensate those hurt and the families of those killed in 2.59 million now-recalled Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other cars with ignition switches that can inadvertently shut off the engine and disable power steering and air bags. GM delayed recalling the cars for nearly a decade after some within the company became aware there was a problem.
Feinberg has said all approved death claims will get at least $1 million. Based on the claims received and payments made, GM is not expected to see its costs top that range, but there are still hundreds of claims that haven’t been reviewed.
In a recent regulatory filing, GM said it has paid $93 million through its compensation program for those killed or injured as a result of defective ignition switches.