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Defective GM Ignition Switches Now Linked to 30 Deaths

Oct 29, 2014

Another death has been linked to General Motors’ defective ignition switch, raising the total to 30, according to a report this week from Kenneth Feinberg, who oversees the automaker’s compensation fund.

Since the fund began accepting claims in August, it has received 1,580 claims for deaths and injuries, Law360 reports. Thus far, the fund has approved 61 claims for fatalities and injuries in crashes caused by the faulty ignition switches. In vehicles with the faulty switch, the switch can unexpectedly move out of the “run” position, stalling the engine and disabling the air bags. Millions of GM vehicles have been recalled because of the defect and federal regulators and Congress are investigating GM for its failure to act sooner on the problem.

Ignition-related recalls now total nearly 14.7 million in the U.S, according to a GM representative. Costs related to the defective ignition switch recall have risen to $2.7 billion this year, according to a regulatory filing last week, Law360 reports. In the first nine months of 2014, GM spent $680 million repairing ignition switches in 2.6 million cars, the company said. GM spent $325 million repairing or replacing ignition keys for 12.1 million cars.

Thirty-one families have accepted settlement offers from GM so far, according to a representative for Kenneth Feinberg. In recent years, Feinberg has run the victim compensation funds for the 9/11 attacks, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the Boston Marathon bombing. The fund expects to receive many more claims by the Dec. 31 deadline, Law360 reports.

According to the fund’s protocol, payment for eligible death claims is at least $1 million, with additional payments to surviving spouses and dependents. Payouts for severe injuries are calculated individually, Law360 reports, and can take into account such factors as the need for long-term care. Claims settled so far include the deaths of two Wisconsin teenagers who died when the air bags failed to deploy in an accident in their 2005 Chevy Cobalt and for a two-year-old boy paralyzed below the waist in a crash.

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