GM ignition-switch death compensation claims hit 100

Nathan Bomey

The number of people who have filed applications for compensation claiming that one of their loved ones was killed because of a deadly defect General Motors ignored has reached 100.

Ken Feinberg — the compensation fund czar GM hired to independently run a victim settlement fund for people affected by its ignition-switch defect — had received 100 death claim applications and 184 injury claim applications as of Friday, spokeswoman Amy Weiss said in an email.

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The numbers do not necessarily reflect the number of victims legitimately affected by the ignition-switch defect, which lingered for more than a decade before GM finally ordered a recall in February.

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Anyone can file a claim for compensation, which could range into the millions for crashes involving deaths and serious injuries, but Feinberg will determine whether they are eligible. Applications will be accepted through the end of the year.

GM has publicly acknowledged at least 13 deaths connected to the defect, which can cause ignition switches in up to 2.6 million small cars to turn off when jostled, cutting off power to airbags. The faulty switches affected discontinued models such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion.

The company is now subject to numerous investigations and lawsuits, including a criminal probe by the U.S. Justice Department.

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The compensation fund is technically unlimited, but GM has estimated that it will cost about $400 million to $600 million. That doesn't include potential payments to victims who choose to sue GM instead of accepting settlements and it doesn't include any potential government fines.

Barclays has estimated GM would ultimately pay about $2.5 billion in settlements and fines to resolve the issue.

Feinberg has spelled out extensive criteria for eligibility at

If Feinberg determines that the defect was the "substantial cause" of the accident, he will use actuarial tables and average medical cost data to calculate the size of a payout. The families of people who died will get at least $1 million.

By Nathan Bomey, USA Today