13 deaths is the current number of fatalities that General Motors has acknowledged as caused by defective ignition switches. Recently, investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said they expect the final death toll to be higher once investigations are complete.
According to a CNN report, the final number of deaths associated with the ignition recall is likely to rise once investigations are complete. The current number of fatalities – 13 — acknowledged by GM only looks at certain types of accidents where an airbag would have been expected to save a life. For example, back seat passengers are not included in GM’s count.
Figuring out which victims that GM is including in its count is difficult to match with other public information. Neither GM nor NHTSA have ever produced a list of those victims included on the list of 13. The House, however, has released a list which raises perhaps more questions than it answers.
The House list contains one crash victim in Canada. Recently, Transport Canada announced it was investigating two crashes. Also not on the House list is Brooke Melton. The lawsuit filed by Melton’s family is considered by many to be the case that brought the ignition problems to light.
Even at the conservative number of 13, the GM ignition recall is the deadliest recalls in recent history since 51 people died from defective gas tanks in Jeep Grand Cherokees and Jeep Libertys. Clarence Ditlow from the Center for Auto Safety says he expects the final number of fatalities in the ignition recall to finish higher.
Another indicator of a higher death count is the number of claims filed by plaintiffs asserting injuries and wrongful death. Numerous lawsuits have been filed by victims and their families seeking compensation. In April, GM announced it had hired compensation specialist Ken Feinberg. Feinberg is an attorney who has handled high-profile cases such as the BP oil spill and Boston Marathon bombing. It is hoped that Feinberg will help the automaker establish a GM compensation fund to aid those injured by the recalled vehicles.