General Motors Ignition-Switch Death Toll Rises to 23

DETROIT (Detroit Free Press/MCT) —

The number of people killed in crashes caused by General Motors’ defective ignition switches has reached 23 as of Friday, according to GM victim-fund chief Ken Feinberg.

Feinberg said he has received 153 applications for compensation from families claiming to have lost a loved one in an accident caused by the ignition switches. GM has recalled 2.6 million small cars, primarily from between 2003 and 2007 model years, to replace the ignition switches.

Claims that have not been awarded compensation are either still being evaluated or have insufficient records to prove their case. Families of people who died will get at least $1 million.

Feinberg, who ran the 9/11 victim-compensation fund and the BP oil-spill fund, is accepting applications through Dec. 31.

He’s also received applications from 70 people claiming to have suffered serious injuries and 644 claiming to have suffered minor injuries. He has certified four serious injuries and 12 minor injuries for compensation.

After he determines that an applicant is eligible for compensation, the family must decide whether to accept the settlement.

The parents of Trenton Buzard agreed to accept a settlement more than five years after their son was paralyzed when his great-grandmother’s 2005 Cobalt collided with an oncoming vehicle.

Texas lawyer Bob Hilliard, who is representing the families of 90 people killed in one of the recalled vehicles, said Feinberg’s offer was acceptable.

“I am satisfied this little boy and his parents will no longer have to worry about being able to afford what it will take to care for him,” Hilliard said in a statement. “Even after Trenton is grown he will be able to count on top-notch care and quality of life purchases to assist him in being independent and mobile.”

GM initially said the number of people who died in accidents blamed on the ignition switch was at least 13, but that figure was expected to rise as more victims came forward. GM CEO Mary Barra recently told reporters she’s not surprised the numbers are rising.

“Our goal has been every person impacted is a part of that program, and that’s the process we’re working through,” she said.

The faulty switches were installed in Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions, Pontiac G5s, Chevrolet HHRs, Pontiac Solstices and Saturn Skys, mostly from the 2003-07 model years. The ignition switches turn off when jostled, cutting off power to engines, air bags and other features.

Feinberg has spelled out criteria for eligibility at If he determines the defect was the “substantial cause” of the accident, he will use actuarial tables and medical-cost data to calculate the size of a payout.

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