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General Motors' Compensation Fund Claims Deadline Extended

Nov 19, 2014

General Motors has extended for deadline for filing claims with its compensation fund for deaths and injuries linked to the automaker’s faulty ignition switches.

The original deadline for claims was December 31, 2014, but families of those killed or seriously injured in accidents involving the defective switches now have until January 31, 2015 to file their claims, according to Kenneth Feinberg, who oversees the fund. Families, safety advocates, politicians, and lawyers had pressed for an extension, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Because of our determination to provide comprehensive notice and give each claimant an opportunity to file a claim in a timely manner, we have decided to extend the filing deadline,” Feinberg said in a written statement. The pressure to extend the deadline intensified with reports last week that the family of Jean Averill, who died in a Saturn Ion crash in December 2003, was never told by GM that the accident was linked to a faulty ignition switch, according to the WSJ. Feinberg said notice had been sent to 4.5 million current or prior owners of the recalled GM vehicles.

The compensation fund was created earlier this year in response to intense scrutiny and investigations into GM’s ten-year delay in addressing the ignition switch defect. In vehicles with the defective switch, weight on the key ring or a jostling of the key can move the switch out of the “run” position, shutting off the engine and disabling the air bags, according to the WSJ. Thus far the compensation fund has confirmed 33 death claims.

Feinberg, who previously administered compensation programs for September 11 victims, the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings, and the Boston Marathon bombing, has sole authority in determining eligible claims and the size of the payouts, the WSJ reports. GM has set aside $400 million to pay claims and could tap an additional $200 million if needed. Those who accept compensation from the fund must agree not to sue GM but victims or families may bypass the fund and pursue court cases.

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