General Motors has announced its plan to compensate victims of its faulty ignition switch problem, saying that there is no cap on payments and that victims could see as little as a few thousand to millions of dollars in financial compensation.
According to an article published by USA TODAY, GM’s attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who GM hired to administer fund payments to victims and their families, GM hopes to pay all victims and resolve their cases within 90 — 180 days (depending upon how complicated the case is) of them filing a claim. Feinberg acknowledged that he has created a formula so to speak, on how to determine compensation amounts, however there is no limit on payments to individuals, nor for the total fund. Determining the payout will depend on the circumstances of the case and injuries sustained, if any. The payments will also not be limited to deaths and injuries directly caused by the recalled issue of front airbags not deploying. In fact, those who were injured as rear passengers or who were occupants of other cars involved in a crash with a GM car could see a payout as well.
“Money is a poor substitute for loss,” Feinberg said.
Feinberg added that the company delegated at his “sole discretion” which claims are eligible and how much money they should get, saying that there will be no appeals.
“Once I make the decision, that’s it,” he said.
The company will begin accepting applications on August 1 and the application deadline is scheduled to close on December 31.
To date, General Motors has issued recalls for more than 2.6 million 2003-2011 GM small cars worldwide-with 2.19 million of those vehicles being recalled in the U.S. The recall was issued to replace defective ignition switches that were linked to 13 deaths in 54 [documented] crashes. According to the company, the switch can inadvertently rotate from the “run” position to “accessory” while the car is underway, shutting off the engine and power steering and brake assist as well as disabling the airbags. According to USA TODAY, the critical safety flaw in the recall and the compensation fund, is the failure of the airbags to deploy when they’re supposed to.
If the airbags inflated in a crash, then “you’re not eligible. Automatic disqualification,” for the compensation fund, Feinberg said, according to a statement recorded by USA TODAY.
“But if the airbag didn’t deploy, it could have been the switch,” he said. “If the airbag didn’t deploy, or you don’t know if the airbag deployed, file a claim.”
Though filing a claim under this fund might seem like a good idea to victims of GM, it is ALWAYS advised to consult with your own legal professional to discuss whether this is your best option. As stated by Feinberg, not all victims of the faulty ignition switch problem are eligible for compensation and those who file a claim and do not receive the compensation they think they are entitled to, they cannot appeal the decision for more compensation. That is why it is in your best interest, if you were injured as a result of the faulty ignition problem, you should discuss your legal rights and options before filing a claim on your own.
Automakers have the legal responsibility to ensure that their cars are mechanically safe and do not pose a threat to drivers. And when car companies fail at making sure their cars are safe, they a legal responsibility for those who’ve become injured. At Altman & Altman LLP, our seasoned Products Liability Attorneys have nearly 50 years of knowledge and experience handling all types of defective products and products liability cases, and we have the skills to fight against large consumer products companies so that our clients achieve the highest financial compensation for their injuries. If you or a loved one was a victim of the GM recalled ignition switch, or if you were injured as the result of a faulty product, call our office today to speak to an attorney to discuss your legal options and whether you might qualify for a products liability claim. All initial consultations are completely free of charge and of no obligation to you. Our team of lawyers is available around the clock to answer any and all questions you may have about your case.