The compensation fund reviewing claims from victims of General Motors’ defective ignition switches has found 87 deaths tied to the defect and eligible for compensation, up three from the figure reported the week before, according to a weekly update.
Another 1,085 cases remain under review out of the 4,342 filed since the fund was created last August. About 31 percent have been deemed ineligible either because there was insufficient documentation or the claimants failed to prove that the ignition switch was the primary cause of someone’s injury or death.
The compensation fund is led by Washington lawyer Ken Feinberg and Camille Biros. The claims arose from General Motors’ recall of about 2.5 million small cars, mostly Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions, from the 2003-07 model years. The switches on those cars sometimes slipped from the “on” position to “accessory” either from the weight of a keychain or from inadvertent contact with a driver’s leg. That caused a loss of electrical power to the cars’ steering and air bags.
A few of the automakers’ engineers knew about the problem at least by 2003. Some GM attorneys knew by early 2013 that there were deaths that may have been caused by the defect, but the company didn’t begin recalling the models in question until February 2014.
Feinberg and his staff have 11 claims eligible for compensation for catastrophic, life-changing injuries, including quadriplegia, paraplegia, permanent brain damage or pervasive burns. Another 146 claims involving less-severe injuries that required hospitalization or outpatient treatment have qualified for some compensation.
GM has estimated the final cost of the compensation fund at between $400 million and $600 million.