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GM fund approves 24 death claims

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington —General Motors Co.’s compensation fund has now approved 24 death claims for people killed as a result of defective ignition switches in since-recalled cars, an increase of one since last week. The number of approved claims for injuries remains unchanged at 16, the fund said in a report Monday.

It’s the slowest week for approvals since the program began approving claims. The number of claims filed jumped 30 percent to 1,130, up from 867 the prior week; the number of claims for deaths jumped to 165, up from 153.

Through Friday, it had received 79 claims for serious injuries and 886 for less-serious injuries, compared to 70 for serious injuries and 644 for less serious injuries a week earlier.

The fund will continue to accept claims through Dec. 31.

GM has said it expects to spend $400 million on claims, but has said it could rise as high as $600 million. The fund has made settlement offers to about 30 victims and their families and has ruled that between 90 and 100 claims are not eligible for funding, the office of independent compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg said. The vast majority are still being reviewed as people are asked to submit additional documentation to establish a link between ignition switches and crashes.

The fund will pay at least $1 million for each death claim, along with $300,000 payments to surviving spouses and children for pain and suffering. In addition, it will calculate the economic value of the life lost.

The claims stem from GM’s delayed recall of 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other cars with defective ignition switches that can accidentally turn off the engine and disable power steering, power brakes and air bags.