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GM Willing to Discuss Ignition Switch Victim Compensation

Tina Robinson3 years ago

Lawyers representing General Motors and plaintiffs with claims stemming from February’s massive ignition switch recall met on Friday to begin discussing the posibility of settlement talks, says an article in the New York Times.

GM Discusses the Possibility of Victim Compenstation

“We’ve taken responsibility for our actions and we will continue to do. We’ve acknowledged that we have civic and legal obligations as they relate to injuries in accidents involving the recalled cars.” – GM spokesperson Greg Martin as published by the New York Times

Thomas J. Henry met with lawyer Kenneth Feinberg to begin discussing the possibilties of settlement talks for claims filed against GM associated with the ignition switch recall. The group met for nearly four hours and discussed a possible compensation fund for victims of accidents linked to the faulty switches. Over 300 claims have been filed against the automaker for injuries and deaths caused by the defective ignition switches which can easily be bumped out of position and cause a sudden loss of vehicle power.

Kenneth Feinberg, GM's handpicked negotiator, made it clear he thought GM should not use bankruptcy as a way to not pay claims and that all injury and death claims tied to the defect should be paid.  However, it was clear that GM did not give Feinberg any authority to bind GM. 

“As a GM's consultant, his capacity will be tested with regard to this case that has both legal and humanitarian aspects that affect so many human lives,” Thomas J. Henry states.

Clients of Thomas J. Henry make up 273 of the claims and 53 claims of wrongful death. GM has acknowledged 13 deaths and 32 crashes associated with the switches, but estimates from the Center for Auto Safety released in March put the death toll much higher.

Friday’s meeting is seen by many as a clear indication that GM possibly intends to compensate accident victims and their families.

GM Victims’ Possible Compensation Fund

GM CEO Mary Barra announced in April that the company had hired Feinberg to help explore options for compensating victims of the ignition switch recall. In the past, Feinberg has worked on other high-profile cases such as the BP oil spill, 9/11 terrorist attacks and Boston Marathon bombings.

Although bankruptcy in 2009 seemingly shielded GM from legal responsibility for accidents that occurred prior to the bankruptcy process, Martin confirmed that claims for possible compensation reviewed by Feinberg would not be limited by that constraint.

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