The General Motors Co faulty ignition-switch death toll now stands at 19, above the company’s earlier estimate, and may go higher as a review of claims continues.
Attorney Kenneth Feinberg —hired by GM to create a claims process and evaluate submissions—released the figure on Monday, his first public update on ignition-switch injury claims. Mr. Feinberg said he continues to evaluate the 125 death claims that have been filed as of Friday.
The new figure comes after GM spent months down-playing the death count, saying it knew of only 13 deaths based on the information it had. GM Chief Executive Mary Barra later softened the company’s stance when she established the victim compensation fund and delegated the responsibility of determining who was killed or injured to Mr. Feinberg.
The compensation fund has received a total of 445 claims so far. Nineteen were certified as deaths while 12 others were certified as legitimate injury claims. Details about all the claims weren’t released although no one has yet agreed to take the payouts and waive their rights to sue the company.
Mr. Feinberg’s office also declined to say how much GM will pay on each claim although death cases automatically receive $1 million in addition to the awarded amount.
The Detroit auto maker set aside $400 million to fund the compensation program although it is possible another $200 million may need to be set aside. Fund payouts aren’t capped.
More news later.
In the meantime, call your local dealer if you have a GM car to see if the recall effects your vehicle.