GM fund approves 30 death claims

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

General Motors ignition switch compensation fund said Monday it has approved 30 death and 31 injury claims through Friday.

That’s up from 29 death claims and 27 injury claims approved as of last week.

The number of total claims filed as of Friday was 1,580, up 4 percent from the previous week. There have been 193 death claims, up from 184. Claims for serious injuries total 102, up from 93. Claims for less-serious injuries total 1,286, up from 1,240.

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

GM has said it expects to spend $400 million on claims, but it has said they could rise as high as $600 million. The fund said as of last week it has made settlement offers to 31 victims and their families; at least 21 of those offers have been accepted, and the fund expects all 31 will accept. Deputy fund administrator Camile Biros said Monday the fund is close to issuing its first checks.

It has ruled that between 90 and 100 claims are not eligible for funding, the office of independent compensation adviser 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.

The U.S Attorney's Office in New York, aided by the FBI and a federal grand jury, along with the Securities and Exchange Commission, 45 state attorneys general and Canadian officials are probing GM's delayed recall. GM paid a record-setting $35 million fine to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in May and agreed to up to three years of intense oversight by the agency.

GM has recalled 30 million vehicles worldwide in 78 campaigns, including 26.5 million in the United States. GM has at least one recall campaigns that hasn’t yet been made public.