General Motors will be paying compensation to the families of 19 victims of a faulty ignition switch in GM cars. So far, 19 deaths have been confirmed as a result of the GM vehicles, but 125 death claims have been filed in total, meaning the actual number could be much larger.
According to Fox 2 Now, the attorney overseeing the GM deaths, Ken Feinberg, has linked the 19 deaths to a serious flaw in the company’s ignition switches. Originally, GM had only admitted to 13 deaths as a result of the design flaw, and even then the 13 deaths went unreported for decades. The auto manufacturer discovered the ignition flaw many years ago but failed to do anything about it, allowing the death toll to pile up until it very recently reached a critical mass.
Feinberg has found 31 people eligible for compensation from GM out of 125 claims of death and 320 claims of injury. The attorney has been analyzing the claims for five weeks and still has the majority of the claims remaining for review. Four of the GM victims who survived suffered severe injuries, including quadriplegia, paraplegia, double amputation, and brain damage. Feinberg claims that he has denied fewer than 12 claims for compensation.
“Already there are more deaths than GM said from day one,” Feinberg explained to CNN Money. “Of course there will be additional eligible deaths; how many is pure speculation, but there will be eligible death claims.”
The compensation will provide families of the deceased $1 million, in addition to another $300,000 for each surviving spouse or dependent and an estimate of the victim’s future earning potential.
According to The Daily Mail, Feinberg has not yet revealed the identities of the 19 victims, nor will he reveal if any of the 19 deaths include the original 13 that GM admitted to. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not reached a total of how many deaths have resulted from the GM ignition failure.
The ignition switch in some GM vehicles has the potential to accidentally shift out of the “run” position and into “accessory” or “off,” which completely shuts off the engine, often resulting in a violent collision. The ignition failure could also turn off air bags, power steering, and brakes, making the crashes even more dangerous.
As a result of the faulty switch, 29 million GM vehicles have been recalled. Amazingly, GM sales haven’t suffered much, even after all the bad publicity. GM’s sales in the United States are up 2.8 percent.