GM's Compensation Fund To Start Accepting Claims on Aug. 1

Jul 18, 2014 05:17 PM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

The General Motors compensation fund will begin accepting claims on Aug. 1 as the automaker works to make restitution to those injured and the families of those killed in faulty GM vehicles.

Affected consumers were given more detailed instructions on filing claims at a Senate hearing on Thursday, Edmunds.com reported. Attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who has worked on high-profile cases including the 9/11 attacks and the Virginia Tech shootings, is handling compensation to victims on GM's behalf.

At least 13 people have been killed in GM small cars that had problematic ignition switches. Earlier this year, GM recalled 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other models with switches that could turn off the engine while the car was moving and simultaneously disable the air bags.

At Thursday's hearing, Feinberg told the Senate subcommittee on consumer protection that he would "discourage cases" where the vehicle's air bag deployed to make sure that only eligible victims are compensated.

"A victim is not eligible if the power was on and the airbag did deploy," said Feinberg, as quoted by Edmunds. "Airbag deployment renders the claim ineligible ... What I want to avoid with this program is being inundated with thousands of claims where the airbag deployed."

Claimants who are having difficulties with filing their claims will be helped, and payments could begin as soon as 90 days after claims are "deemed to be complete," Feinberg said.

While it has limited eligibility to those affected by the switch in the 2.6 million older vehicles, GM has not placed any financial limits on the victim compensation fund, the New York Times reported.

In testimony on Thursday, CEO Mary Barra said the compensation fund would not be expanded, indicating that the carmaker has limits on how much restitution it can afford. GM will also "not waive its protection from lawsuits gained in bankruptcy reorganization" and "will not share more documents from its internal investigation," the Times reported.

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