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Injured GM Victims Expected to Cost Automaker Billions

Tina Robinson2 years ago

In the next two weeks, General Motors is expected to announce the eligibility recommendations for GM recall victims currently being prepared by attorney Ken Feinberg. According to the New York Times, claims submitted by those who were seriously injured in accidents involving the recalled vehicles are expected to cost the company billions of dollars.

Hundreds of GM Injury Claims

The official victim numbers recognized by GM stand at 13 deaths and 54 crashes; however, those numbers don’t include the hundreds of victims that were injured in crashes caused defective ignition switches. The death count itself has been criticized by safety advocates and plaintiffs’ attorneys who say the real number of fatalities is likely much higher.

The automaker has said it will begin accepting claims on Aug. 1. The determination of who receives compensation and exactly how much will be at the discretion of Feinberg. CEO Mary Barra has publicly stated that no distinction would be made between crashes that occurred prior to or after the company underwent bankruptcy restructuring in July 2009.

While payments for deaths can be costly, the NY Times writes that, “it is … catastrophic injuries that have historically resulted in the biggest payments.” In these cases, financial settlements consider factors such as immediate and lifetime medical costs, loss of wages, and pain and suffering.

A Long, Tragic List of Injured

Since February, GM has recalled about 2.6 million vehicles with faulty ignition switches that can easily be pushed out of the “run” position, resulting in engine stalls and standard safety features such as airbags, power steering, and power brakes to become disabled.

The NY Times highlighted several victims who were seriously injured in crashes involving the recalled vehicles.

  • Mykia Jordan lost control of a Chevy Cobalt while driving on the freeway in Detroit in October 2012. Jordan was in a coma for three weeks, missed a year of school and work, and still relies on a cane to walk today.
  • Trenton Buzard sustained critical injuries required him to spend a year in a children’s hospital and left him paralyzed from the waist down. Buzard was the sole survivor of a 2009 accident involving a 2005 Cobalt that killed his great-grandmother and aunt.
  • Josh Cull and Samantha Zollman were both seriously injured in an October 2012 crash in which the airbags failed to deploy in a recalled vehicle. Cull sustained a head injury, fractured vertebrae, and lost an eye. Zollman has undergone eight facial reconstruction surgeries to-date.
  • Jaqueline Gilbert suffered a traumatic brain injury after she lost control of her Cobalt in May 2012 and struck a pole. Gilbert still has cognitive difficulties to this day.
  • Jesse Fortner was paralyzed in April 2012 after losing control of his Cobalt. His vehicle ran into an embankment and rolled over in a ditch. The airbags in his vehicle did not deploy.

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. 

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