GM ignition claims rise 12%; no new claims approved

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — The number of claims filed with General Motors ignition switch compensation fund rose by more than 12 percent over the last week, but no new claims were approved.

Compensation fund adviser Ken Feinberg’s office said 1,772 total claims had been filed by Friday, including 196 for fatalities. That’s up from 1,580 total claims the previous week, including 193 death claims.

But the number of approved claims remains at 30 death and 31 injury claims. GM initially said 13 deaths were linked to the ignition switch defect. Since the fund began reviewing claims, this is the first week that no new claims were approved.

GM has recalled a record-setting 30 million vehicles in North America in 78 campaigns that have cost the automaker more than $2.7 billion. GM's delayed recall of 2.6 million older cars for ignition switch defects have prompted investigations from the Justice Department, Congress, 48 state attorneys general, the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal regulators.

GM has said it expects to spend $400 million on claims, but has said they could rise as high as $600 million. The fund has made settlement offers to 31 victims and their families; at least 23 of those offers have been accepted, and the fund expects all 31 will accept. Deputy fund administrator Camile Biros said last week the fund is close to issuing its first checks.

It has ruled that between 90 and 100 claims are not eligible for funding. The vast majority are still being reviewed as people are asked to submit additional documentation to establish a link between ignition switches and crashes.

Attorney General Eric Holder declined to comment on the status of the investigation Monday.

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