General Motors has declined a request from United States Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Edward J. Markey, D-Mass to extend beyond January 31 the application for compensation for victims of its faulty ignition switch. GM said in a statement it has conducted extensive outreach and has contacted over five million former and present owners of the recalled cars.
GM said it does not plan another extension as its goal is to be “just and timely” in compensating the families of victims.
Senators Blumenthal and Markey told GM chief executive Mary Barra that victims of the faulty switches should be given more time to decide whether to file, citing two pending factors causing some of them victims to delay – 1) a Department of Justice probe into whether the carmaker breached any laws in handling the defect; and 2) a pending federal court decision on whether the company is shielded from liability by its 2009 bankruptcy.
The senators noted that the victims don’t know enough “about their legal rights or facts to make an informed decision." They said that the victims cannot have sufficient information until the DOJ concludes its criminal probe and the bankruptcy court makes a ruling, and until then the deadline should be extended.
So far since August 1, 2014, the compensation program administered by attorney Kenneth Feinberg, has determined that 50 death claims, seven claims of "catastrophic" injury, and 68 for less-serious injuries are eligible for compensation. Blumenthal and Markey expressed concern that the carmaker neglected to notify victims of the recall and compensation fund.