Tallahassee Journal

GM ignition switch deaths hit 50 as deadline looms

GM ignition switch deaths hit 50 as deadline looms

The death toll from General Motors’ defective ignition switches rose to 50 on Monday, according to the independent administrator for GM’s compensation plan, with deadline for filing claims coming on Saturday. Compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg, administrator for the plan, now has deemed 50 deaths eligible for compensation, with 67 still under review and 53 submitted without documentation. Another 58 were deemed ineligible and 110 are were rejected as deficient.The logo of American carmaker General Mo

Last year the company set aside $400 million to make payments under the compensation plan, but conceded the final total could grow to $600 million. The company’s chief financial officer told analysts earlier this month that those numbers have not changed. Compensation for deaths starts at $1 million. Victims can choose to bypass the plan and take their case to court.

The cases arise from crashes from a variety of older GM models, including the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion, recalled for defective ignition switches, with the total recalled for the switches reaching more than 2.6 million. The switches can shift from the “run” to “accessory” position while the car was in motion, disabling the air bags and power steering and brakes. The recalls engulfed GM last year, dominating the agenda of CEO Mary Barra. Initially, GM acknowledged 13 deaths as being connected to the issue. But the toll has risen as the recalls expanded and the compensation process has proceeded.

After several months stocking enough replacement switches, GM says it has aggressively sought owners and urged them to bring their recalled vehicles to dealers for repairs. At one point, it was offering a $25 gift card. In addition to the death cases, seven cases will be compensated based on involving severe disabilities, including amputations, severe burns or brain damage. And 68 will be compensated for other physical injuries that required hospitalization within 48 hours of the accident.

A total of 3,068 claims of all kinds have been submitted, according to the Monday report, of which 802 are still under review and 847 were submitted without documentation. Camille Biros, deputy administrator for Feinberg, told the Associated Press said that so far the GM claims are following the usual pattern for compensation cases with a large number of claims at the beginning, a lull in the middle, and a large number toward the deadline.