Death Claims Rise For Faulty GM Ignition Switch

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The attorney hired by General Motors to compensate victims of crashes caused by faulty ignition switches says he now has 33 eligible death claims. That's up from 32 at this time last week, and more than double the 13 deaths that GM identified as having been caused by the switch.

Attorney Ken Feinberg tells Here & Now's Robin Young that the increased number of death claims is one of the reasons the deadline for filing claims is being extended by a month, to Jan. 31, 2015.

GM came under fire last week because the family of a Connecticut woman who died in a 2003 crash had not been notified that her crash had been linked to a faulty ignition switch, even though GM knew about the problem for years.

Feinberg also handled victims’ compensation after 9/11, the BP oil spill, the Virginia Tech mass shooting, the Aurora movie theater mass shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing.

Interview Highlights: Kenneth Feinberg

On the findings of his investigation so far

“We’ve found so far as of today 33 eligible death claims and an additional 40 or so eligible physical injury claims. We will continue to process claims. We’ve received over 2,000 claims but many of them are defective, deficient, wrong automobiles — but we’re going through each one by one and we’ll now continue accept claims until January 31, 2015.”

On what is needed to file a claim

“These are accidents that occurred as much as a decade ago. So it’s a classic example of circumstantial evidence. Show us, when you file the claim, the contemporary accident police report. If the photos demonstrate a front-end impact and yet the airbag did not deploy because the power was off, that’s of heavy circumstantial evidence of defective switch failure. Show us maintenance records. We’ve had some claims where the claimant — two, three, four weeks before the accident — was complaining about the switch; also insurance records. These are all powerful documentary evidence issued at the time that maybe there something amiss with the automobile.”

On "extraordinary circumstances"

“Under this program, we have a category called ‘exceptional extraordinary circumstances,’ where once we calculate the damages of an eligible claimant and if there are extraordinary reasons why a claimant should receive additional compensation — such as a person labored for 10 years believing she was a criminal — we have on occasion raised the award to take into account certain extraordinary circumstances in a case.”


  • Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the GM Ignition Compensation Claims Resolution Facility.

This segment aired on November 17, 2014.


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