GM compensation fund approves 57th death claim

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

General Motors Co.’s ignition switch compensation fund on Monday said it has approved another death claim and seven more injury claims over the last week.

To date, the fund has approved 57 death claims and 94 injury claims. GM initially said just 13 deaths were related to the issue.

In total, 4,345 claims were submitted by the Jan. 31 deadline, including 479 death claims. To date, 666 total claims have been ruled ineligible, including 101 death claims. A total of 1,457 claims are still under review, while 967 have been submitted without documentation.

The 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 earlier this 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 initial 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.