A fund set up by General Motors to pay for deaths and injuries caused by its vehicles with faulty ignitions is accepting claims.
The five-month filing period that began Friday is part of the fallout from General Motors’ recall of 2.6 million small cars beginning in February.
That recall forced General Motors Corp. to acknowledge that it knew about the defective switches for more than a decade, and triggered a sweeping safety review that has resulted in a series of additional recalls. About 29 GM vehicles have been recalled this year.
Drivers, passengers and pedestrians killed or hurt by one of the defective GM vehicles can file a claim through Dec. 31.
GM has already absorbed a $400 million charge to cover the potential payments to be made by the fund.
The bills could run even higher, because the fund has no cap. The Detroit-based company advised investors last month that it might have to set aside an additional $200 million to compensate the victims of its blunders.
About 40 claims had been filed by late Friday night, said Camille Biros, a spokeswoman for the fund’s administrator, Kenneth Feinberg.
GM has traced 13 deaths to the defective switches, but some members of Congress investigating the problems peg the death toll at nearly 100 people.
The defective vehicles covered by the fund include a range of GM vehicles, including the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion. The ignition switches in those cars could suddenly slip from “run” to “accessory,” causing engines to stall. That causes the power steering to shut off, making cars harder to control and disabling air bags in crashes.