Tag Archive | "victims"

GM Gets Deadline Flurry of Compensation Claims


The Jan. 31 deadline for claims to General Motors’ victim compensation fund spurred a flurry of 1,100 new filings, reported The Detroit Bureau.

The rush brought the total number of filings to 4,180, including 455 death benefits: an increase from 338 the week prior. Claims for the most severe injuries rose to 278, up from 224 a week earlier, and filings for less severe injuries jumped to 3,447 from 2,508 a week earlier.

The fund is administered by Kenneth Feinberg, an attorney whose firm oversaw similar funds related to the BP oil spill and other issues, who said in a radio interview yesterday that he expects the total number of filings to rise a bit more because any claims post marked for Jan. 31 will be accepted.

Last week, two U.S. Senators – Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) – asked GM to extend the deadline because they believed the claimants did not have enough information to make a decision on whether or not to file. The automaker declined. It would have been the second extension of the deadline as Feinberg convinced the company to extend the original Dec. 31 deadline by a month.

Feinberg said he believed the second extension was unnecessary and if someone didn’t know about about the deadline they were “living under a rock.” Georgia attorney Lance Cooper, whose firm submitted 45 claims to the fund, including 20 for deaths, told the Detroit News he felt the number of lawsuits agains the automaker would rise because the of the failure to extend the deadline. Cooper believes potential claimants should have had a year to file.

The lawsuits may come anyway. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court is considering allowing suits to be filed against the automaker, which was formed out of bankruptcy, despite the new company’s liability shield. The company is not using the shield against those who filed claims with the fund.

Thus far, Feinberg and his team have approved death benefits for 51 people, which is up from the initial 13 deaths attributed to the problem. There also have been eight claims for serious injuries approved and 69 for lesser injuries. The amount of the benefit varies upon the circumstances, but each death benefit recipient receives at least $1 million.

The fund, which could pay out as much as $600 million, was established by GM last year for victims and their families who were killed or injured as a result of the company’s faulty ignition switches. The switches could toggle out of the “run” mode in to “accessory” mode cutting off the vehicle’s power steering and brakes as well as shutting off its airbags.

Ultimately, GM recalled nearly 2.6 million of the vehicles – some of which were a decade old – last year and made multiple appearances before Congressional committees and is subject to a variety of lawsuits as well as an investigation by the Justice Department.

A federal bankruptcy court is deciding whether to let claims proceed. General Motors Co., which was formed in a government-sponsored sale of assets from its predecessor’s 2009 bankruptcy reorganization, has said it will not invoke its bankruptcy liability shield in the case of injuries or deaths to avoid paying claims, but is fighting other claims made by owners of vehicles for economic losses.

A hearing is set for Feb. 17 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York on the issue. If GM wins, victims of crashes before the restructuring likely could not sue GM.

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GM Ignition Compensation Death Claims Rise to 49


General Motors’ ignition compensation fund said Monday it has approved 49 death claims, four more than the previous week, along with five new injury claims, reported The Detroit News.

In total, GM compensation adviser Kenneth Feinberg has approved claims for 49 fatalities and 72 injury claims linked to defective ignition switches through Jan. 16, his office said Monday. Of those, seven are for very serious injuries and 65 are for minor injuries.

The number of death claims rose to 311, up eight, and serious injury claims rose to 207, up five. Feinberg has declared 320 ineligible, including 49 death claims, while 857 claims are still under review and 763 have been submitted without documentation.

Last month, Camille Biros, the deputy administrator of the compensation fund, said it has made 65 compensation offers and 41 have been accepted. None have been rejected.

GM set up the fund to compensate those hurt or the families of those killed in 2.59 million now-recalled Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other cars with defective ignition switches that can inadvertently turn the engine off and disable power steering and air bags.

The automaker has said it expects to spend $400 million on claims, but said it could rise as high as $600 million. Asked if GM expected that figure to rise, GM CEO Mary Barra said earlier this month that the company hadn’t changed its guidance.

In May, GM paid a record $35 million fine to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the ignition switch recall that was delayed by nearly a decade, and agreed to up to three years of intense oversight by the safety agency.

The delayed recall has prompted investigations from the Justice Department, Congress, 48 state attorneys general, the Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. and Canadian regulators. Barra fired at least 15 people in the aftermath of a scathing internal report written by an outside law firm and is searching for a new general counsel. GM made significant changes to its safety recall review process in the wake of the recalls.

In November, Feinberg recommended and GM agreed to extend the deadline 30 days until Jan. 31 — a month later than planned — as GM sent 850,000 letters to newly registered owners and others notifying them of the program.

Feinberg has said it could take six months to complete the review of all applications once the final claims are submitted, meaning it may not be until summer before the final tallies are known.

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Approved Death Claims Related to GM Ignition Switch Recall Rise to 42


DETROIT – The number of approved death compensation claims related to a recall of a faulty General Motors ignition switch has risen to 42, reported MLive.

The claims were approved by a fund set up by GM to compensate victims of a defective part in mid-to-late-2000s model cars that has led to a massive recall and a federal investigation. The number of approved claims stood at 19 in mid-September and had grown steadily to 36 at the beginning of December.

The victim compensation fund is being overseen by Kenneth Feinberg, a Washington, D.C. attorney who oversaw similar compensation facilities for disasters such as the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The GM ignition switch claims facility released its latest report Friday.

The latest tally of claims received stands at 2,326, including 251 death claims, 156 “Category One” injury claims, or those resulting in quadriplegia, paraplegia, double amputation, permanent brain damage or pervasive burns, and 1,919 “Category Two” injury claims, or injuries that required a hospital visit within 48 hours of an accident.

To date, there have been 100 claims determined eligible, including the 42 death claims, as well as seven Category One injury claims and 51 Category Two claims.

The deadline for filing a compensation claim has been extended to Jan. 31.

According to the claims resolution facility’s program statistics, 306 claims have been deemed ineligible, while 568 are deficient and 445 are under review. Another 907 claims have been submitted with no documentation. Of those, 46 are death claims, 46 are Category One claims and 815 are Category Two.

GM has estimated that compensating all victims of the defective car part could cost the Detroit automaker anywhere from $400-600 million.

GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles, including 2.2 million in the U.S., affected by the ignition switch. The recall includes 2003-2007 Saturn Ions, 2007-2010 Saturn Skys, 2005-2011 Chevrolet HHRs, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstices, and 2005-10 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 models.

The faulty ignition switches at the heart of the unprecedented recall can move out of the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” positions, leading to a loss of power. The risk may be increased if the key ring is carrying added weight or if the vehicle goes off road or experiences some jarring event, including rough roads. If the key turns to one of those positions, officials say the front air bags may not work if there’s a crash.

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Approved Death Claims Related to GM Ignition Switch Recall Rise to 36


The number of approved death compensation claims related to a recall of a faulty General Motors ignition switch has edged up to 36, reported MLive.

The claims were approved by a fund set up by GM to compensate victims of a defective part in mid-to-late-2000s model cars that has led to a massive recall and a federal investigation. The number of approved claims stood at 19 in mid-September and had grown steadily to 35 last month.

The victim compensation fund is being overseen by Kenneth Feinberg, a Washington, D.C. attorney who oversaw similar compensation facilities for disasters such as the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The GM ignition switch claims facility released its latest report Monday.

The latest tally of claims received stands at 2,215, including 229 death claims, 142 “Category One” injury claims, or those resulting in quadriplegia, paraplegia, double amputation, permanent brain damage or pervasive burns, and 1,844 “Category Two” injury claims, or injuries that required a hospital visit within 48 hours of an accident.

To date, there have been 80 claims determined eligible, including the 36 death claims, as well as five Category One injury claims and 39 Category Two claims.

The deadline for filing a compensation claim has been extended to Jan. 31.

According to the claims resolution facility’s program statistics, 216 claims have been deemed ineligible, while 463 are deficient and 375 are under review. Another 1,081 claims have been submitted with no documentation. Of those, 51 are death claims, 44 are Category One claims and 986 are Category Two.

GM has estimated that compensating all victims of the defective car part could cost the Detroit automaker anywhere from $400-600 million.

GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles, including 2.2 million in the U.S., affected by the ignition switch. The recall includes 2003-2007 Saturn Ions, 2007-2010 Saturn Skys, 2005-2011 Chevrolet HHRs, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstices, and 2005-10 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 models.

The faulty ignition switches at the heart of the unprecedented recall can move out of the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” positions, leading to a loss of power. The risk may be increased if the key ring is carrying added weight or if the vehicle goes off road or experiences some jarring event, including rough roads. If the key turns to one of those positions, officials say the front air bags may not work if there’s a crash.

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Deaths Linked to GM Ignition-Switch Defect Rise to 29


A program to compensate victims of a faulty ignition switch in General Motors Co (GM.N) vehicles has approved two new death claims, bringing the total number of deaths linked so far to the switch to 29, according to a report released on Monday by the lawyer overseeing the program, reported Reuters.

Since it began accepting claims on Aug. 1, the program has received a total of 1,517 claims for deaths and injuries, according to the report by the office of Kenneth Feinberg, who GM has tapped to run the program. The report listed all of the claims received and approved as of Friday.

GM has faced criticism for waiting 11 years to begin recalling millions of cars with ignition-switch problems that were linked to fatalities.

The switch can slip out of position, stalling the vehicle and disabling air bags, and the defect led to the recall of 2.6 million vehicles earlier this year.

So far, 56 claims have been deemed eligible for compensation, including the 29 deaths and 27 injuries, the report showed.

Overall, the number of claims received for injuries and deaths was up almost 11 percent from 1,371 last week, according to the report. The rise is attributable in part to six new death claims, bringing the total number of death claims received by the automaker to 184, and to a continuing uptick in the number of claims for less-serious injuries – those that require hospitalization but do not cause serious permanent damage – from 1,108 to 1,240.

The program will continue to receive applications until Dec. 31 on behalf of individuals injured or killed in accidents they say were caused by the switch problem.

GM has given Feinberg, who has overseen compensation programs for high-profile catastrophes such as the 9/11 attacks and Deepwater Horizon oil spill, free rein to determine eligibility criteria and to approve or reject claims. The amount of compensation has not been capped, but GM has set aside at least $400 million to cover the costs.

Under the program’s protocol, eligible death claims can expect a payout of at least $1 million, depending on whether the deceased had any dependents or any other “extraordinary circumstances” applied.

Once claims are approved, Feinberg’s office makes cash offers to the eligible claimants. It has made 31 offers so far and 20 families have accepted the awards.

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GM Receives 120 Claims Tied to Ignition-Switch Defect


In its first eight days, General Motors Co.’s compensation program has received about 120 claims, more than half of which involved deaths allegedly linked to GM cars that were recalled earlier this year to fix an ignition-switch defect, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer hired by GM to oversee the program, said of the claims filed so far, about 65 were reported by families who say the victims were killed in accidents involving cars that were subject to the 2.6-million-car recall.

Another dozen claims involved catastrophic injuries and the remaining are from people who were hospitalized, Mr. Feinberg added.

“We are just beginning now to review the claims and the documentation, to see whether they are eligible,” Mr. Feinberg said Friday. “It will be well after Labor Day before we begin to draw some conclusions,” he added. “We are encouraged by the early filings. It’s a good sign that owners are aware of the program and understand the program.”

The closing date to file isn’t until the end of the year.

The initial tally raises questions about whether GM has underestimated the number of deaths linked to the defect, which GM knew about for more than a decade but didn’t recall the cars to fix until February.

The company attributes at least 54 crashes and 13 deaths to faulty ignition-switches, which can abruptly slip out of the “on” position, stall the car and disable the air bags.

GM’s compensation plan will offer payouts for any accident in which the cars’ air bags failed to deploy. The checks could range from $20,000 to several million dollars to any driver, passenger, pedestrian or occupant of another vehicle, who can show they were hurt in a crash involving GM cars recalled this year for the defective ignition switch.

A death would automatically be awarded $1 million for pain and suffering above any other payments.

The program has no overall dollar limit, but a key condition is claimants must show via police or other reports a vehicle’s air bag didn’t deploy in the crash.

Any out-of-court death settlements connected to ignition-switch litigation can be refiled.

Mr. Feinberg said that once a victim’s application is deemed eligible, and the documentation is completed, the fund will issue a payment within 90 days for simple cases and 180 days for more complicated ones.

Meantime, GM’s troubles with safety recalls resurfaced this week, with more ignition-key trouble and a group of sport-utility vehicles requiring fixes to power-window switches because they might catch on fire. GM is telling customers to park the SUVs outside until they are repaired.

The power-window recall involves about 189,000 vehicles in North America, mainly from the 2006 and 2007 model years. Models affected include the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Isuzu Ascender and Saab.

GM also announced the recall of 202,115 Saturn VUEs because the ignition key can possibly be removed when the vehicle isn’t in the off position.

GM also recalled 48,059 2013 Cadillac ATS four-door sedans and 2013 Buick Encore vehicles because of lap-belt issues; 14,940 2014-2015 Chevrolet Impala sedans because of potential problems with the front-console storage compartment; 1,968 2009-2010 Chevrolet Aveo and 2009 Pontiac G3 vehicles for a brake-fluid issue; and 1,919 2014 Chevrolet Spark for potential bolt issues.

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