According to the latest report released Oct. 27 by General Motors Victim Compensation Fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg, there have been a total of 192 death claims submitted since the fund began accepting claims on August 1. A total of 1,580 claims, including those for deaths and injuries, have been submitted to the Fund for consideration. The numbers break down as follows as of Oct. 20: 192 death claims; 102 Category One claims; and 1,286 Category Two claims. The fund has determined 30 death, four severe injury, and 27 lesser injury claims to be eligible thus far. As we have mentioned previously, Category One covers claims for serious injuries, which may include quadriplegia, paraplegia, double amputation, permanent brain damage or pervasive burns. Category Two covers claims for less serious injuries.
Our firm, along with The Cooper Firm, have been generally satisfied with the progress made on the claims we have submitted with the Fund. Thus far, our firm and The Cooper Firm have submitted 48 claims to the Fund. We have had awards made in seven claims, consisting of two death claims, two Category One claims and three Category Two claims. Our firms expect to file about 60 more claims fairly soon. Based on early results, I would give Ken Feinberg and his staff a passing grade thus far on the handling of our claims.
GM’s defective ignition switch has prompted the recall of more than 17 million vehicles to date. Drivers, passengers and pedestrians killed or injured by one of the defective GM vehicles may file a claim with the fund through Dec. 31. Our firm and The Cooper Firm selected representative claims to be filed with the fund, claims that would meet the eligibility criteria. Therefore, we expect each of our submitted claims to be paid. GM has earmarked $400 million in its budget to cover potential payments through the fund, and has told investors the total payout may be even higher. Fortunately, there is no cap on the fund.
The fund covers a range of GM vehicles including the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion. However, the fund does not cover a good number of vehicles affected by similar ignition switch problems. Frankly, I don’t understand why GM refuses to include all of these vehicles in the fund. It remains to be seen if GM will address issues arising from those vehicles in a similar fashion. The ignition switch problem can leave a vehicle without power and the driver unable to control the vehicle in sudden and dangerous situations. Investigations have revealed GM knew about the ignition switch defect for more than 10 years before being forced to disclose it to safety regulators and the public. Without any doubt, all of the recalls came about as a direct result of work done in the Melton case.
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