General Motors is reporting that they are responsible for at least twenty-three deaths and sixteen serious injuries for accidents that involved defective ignition switches. Ken Feinberg, the "compensation expert" hired by GM to figure out whose claims were acceptable updated the total and posted it on the internet on yesterday.
Feinberg told reporters that, since August, he has received at least 153 wrongful death claims and that only 23 of them are legitimate. The total last week was twenty-one. And of the at least 714 personal injury claims, only 16 people have received any type of compensation thus far.
Over the summer, General Motors admitted that it knew about the faulty ignition switches in Chevy Cobalts and other vehicles for a decade, but decided to do nothing about it until this past February when information began to leak. Reports showed that a person's keys can cause the ignition switch to slip out of the vehicle's running position, causing it to stall and stop power from going to the steering wheel and airbags.
You may recall Feinberg's name from the 9/11 attacks and BP oil spill off the coast of Louisiana; he was hired after both tragedies to address victims' and their families' claims. In an interview, he said that General Motors has not put a limit on how much it will spend to compensate victims, but that they have place at least $400 million aside for such payments. Although, Feinberg says, that number could grow to over $600 million.
Most recently, the family of a Pennsylvania boy who was injured in one of the accidents caused by a faulty ignition switch, accepted a settlement from GM and Feinberg. The amount for this family and for all others is undisclosed so far. The boy, seven, is paralyzed from his chest on down after a 2009 accident in which the then 2-year-old was in a car seat with this great grandmother driving when the ignition switch failed.
The accident happened northeast of Pittsburgh in Knox, PA. The woman claims she attempted to avoid another vehicle that was veering into her lane when the switch gave out and she could not use the vehicle's power steering. According to the lawsuit, "This defective condition directly resulted in a loss of power exactly at the time and place where [victim's great grandmother]…needed these essential functions to avoid this collision and…lessen the impact."
The boy's great grandmother died at the scene of the accident and the boy was left paralyzed.
Source: WKBN, "Death toll from GM ignition switches now at 23" 29 September 2014