GM Will Pay at Least $1M to Families for Each Death Caused by Faulty Switches

Jun 30, 2014 11:11 AM EDT | Matt Mercuro

General Motor's will offer at least $1 million to family members of victims who were killed as a result of the ignition switch defect that led to over 2 million recalls, according to fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg.

GM's compensation fund for victims of the automaker's defective ignition switch will be open to a broad range of people, and should be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2015.

Feinberg said in an interview before Monday's announcement on how the fund will operate that he has "no idea" how many people would file claims or whether the number of deaths linked to the recall would rise.

At least 13 people have been killed as a result of the faulty ignition switches, according to Reuters.

Claims on the fund can be filed for five months starting on Aug. 1, Feinberg said.

GM announced its recall of 2.6 million older-model vehicles in February, including Chevrolet Cobatls and Saturn Ions, linked to the defective switch.

The switches can be jarred out of the run position and deactivate power steering, air bags, and power brakes.

During a press conference earlier today, Feinberg confirmed that as part of the protocol:

-There is no cap under the plan for victim compensation regarding people who were killed or injured in recalled vehicles

-Vehicles are not eligible for a claim if the airbag deployed in an accident

-Compensation isn't just for the driver: passengers, pedestrians or occupants of a second vehicle could also be eligible for a claim

-The test for eligibility will be "was the ignition switch defect a proximate cause of the accident"

-The two priority categories of victims include catastrophic injury claims and individual deaths

Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra has said multiple times that the fund was created to compensate "every single person who suffered serious physical injury or lost a loved one" as a result of the switches.

Barra said Feinberg, the creator of the compensation funds for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, would determine who will be paid, and how much, according to Reuters.

U.S. Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado said that there could be as many as 100 deaths linked to the faulty part, during the hearing.

There are several factors that would not prevent someone from filing a claim as well, including driver negligence and if an accident occurred before GM's 2009 bankruptcy filing.

If someone accepts compensation, they waive their right to sue GM, according to Feinberg.

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