As January 23, 2015, the compensation program for victims of defective ignition switches in vehicles of General Motors has confirmed 50 deaths from the 338 filed from August until that date. The number of confirmed deaths was four times GM’s estimate and may even go higher as the deadline for claims ends on Jan. 31.
According to a report by in charge of the program, lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, 67 death claims are under review while is working with 53 applicants who haven’t documented their requests. The rest of the claims failed to qualify with Feinberg’s standards. He said that his standard diffs from what GM used and explained the difference in findings.
He said that while GM engineers look for definitive proof of ignition switch failure, he only looks for circumstantial evidence of the cause of the accident. This means that his standards are more lax than GM and there will be a greater number of eligible death claims.
He also said that he will be processing and reviewing claims “well into the spring.” Feinberg said the program has received 3,038 claims from GM customers and families who had switch-related accidents.
In a June report by the United States Department of Transportation, the value of each life lost may be $5 million to $13 million. The amount will vary depending on a number of factors like wages and salaries.
GM initially set aside up to $600 million to pay accident claims, an amount that Feinberg said “appears to be adequate.” Victims who filed the claims and agreed to be compensated have to agree that not to file a suit against GM. So far, Feinberg has determined 125 claimants as eligible for payment, including those for death.