Contrary to the 13 deaths reported by General Motors caused by a faulty ignition switch, the automaker’s attorney has identified more 32 deaths-and expects this toll to rise in the weeks ahead.
The company’s victim-compensation team, led by Kenneth R. Feinberg, will post its weekly update of the number of death and injury claims it has found to be eligible for payment by GM. While the automaker is giving Feinberg sole discretion to determine who the victims are and how much money they should receive, the company could ultimately end up paying more money to more people than the courts would have allowed.
The program, according to reports by The Boston Globe, stipulates that the company cannot overrule Feinberg’s decision but it is entitled to be heard. Interviews show that during the review stages over the last three months, GM has participated in conference calls with Feinberg’s team, submitted documents, and presented findings by its own engineers in certain cases. Despite GM’s participation and weight in the case, the company has done little to change Feinberg’s mind. Ultimately it is the attorney who decides which victims are eligible. Feinberg has gone on record saying that the automaker has not yet questioned the amount of money presented to victims, rather the company is more concerned with the eligibility of victims.
The faulty ignition switch recall was initiated when it was reported that moving cars would suddenly turn off, making it difficult to control and deactivating the air bag system. Of the 2,036 accident claims filed with the compensation program as of last week, 1,095 had been submitted with no documentation – just names, vehicle identification numbers, and basic information.
The company has already started its payouts to victims, though it will never announce when a payment is made. So far, according to The Boston Globe, Feinberg and his team have made offers to forty families-28 of which have accepted their offers, and 15 of which have been sent checks. The Boston Globe reported that Feinberg’s formula for compensation in deaths starts at $1 million and can run into several million dollars, after adding a lifetime’s projected lost earnings and $300,000 each for surviving dependents and spouse.
General Motors and other product manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their products are mechanically safe and do not pose a threat to consumers. And when car companies fail at making sure their cars are safe, they are liable if and when an individual is injured because of their negligence.
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 was 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.