Defective ignition switches installed in 2.6 million older compact cars are officially to blame for 13 deaths and 54 crashes; independent research and federal safety regulators have indicated the true number of deaths is much higher. In an announcement yesterday, General Motors has said it will compensate anyone who lost a one or was seriously hurt in accidents involving these switches, according to the Detroit Free Press.
In April, GM CEO Mary Barra testified before Congress and announced the automaker had hired victims’ compensation attorney Ken Feinberg to assist with developing a GM compensation fund. Now, GM says, Feinberg will be in charge of deciding eligibility requirements and how much victims are compensated for deaths and serious injuries that resulted from the defective switches. Claims will be accepted beginning Aug. 1.
Barclays, a financial services company, told the Detroit Free Press that GM is estimated to pay $2.5 billion in settlements in fines related to the ignition recall. In May, GM announced it had reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Transportation in which the automaker would pay $35 million – the maximum allowed fine – for delaying the recall for over a decade.
Although GM shed legal responsibility for accidents that occurred prior to July 2009 bankruptcy filings, Barra has maintained the company has a “civic and moral responsibility” to victims.
Thomas J. Henry is representing more than 1,000 GM recall victims across the United States and has been investigating injuries and deaths linked to the recall since day one. The firm launched a nationwide media investigation into the recall in April, which brought forth thousands of affected individuals who had information critical to the investigation – information that the firm has handed over to federal agencies also investigating GM’s sluggish response the recall. As more and more individuals have flocked to Thomas J. Henry for representation, the firm has continued to push GM for a victim settlement fund. The firm has had several talks with GM’s victim compensation expert Ken Feinberg regarding appropriate victim compensation for the thousands affected by a fatal design flaw in ignition switches which left numerous dead and countless others seriously injured.