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GM Begins Settlement Payments for Ignition Switches

Dan Brian   |  February 2, 2015   |  

General Motors Company (GM), one of the world’s largest auto manufacturers, has begun issuing settlement payments to victims injured by its defective ignition switches.  So far, the GM Compensation fund has settled 130 cases out of a total of 4,180 claims.

The compensation fund was created on Aug. 1, 2014, to settle claims for damages relating to last year’s massive recall efforts related to the faulty switches. The settlement fund was intended to settle claims quickly, and provide compensation for injured people who may have been barred from filing lawsuits because of GM’s 2009 bankruptcy case.

The compensation fund is being administered by Kenneth Feinberg, an independent attorney with experience overseeing similar settlements. Feinberg was also involved in distributing compensation to victims of tragedies like the 9/11 attacks and the BP oil spill.

What was the defect?

The defective ignition switches affected multiple makes and models of GM vehicles. If the vehicle was jostled, or a keychain was too heavy, the car could turn off while driving, leading to serious accidents. The accidents were made worse because the defect resulted in the air bags failing.

People who believed that a defective ignition switch caused their accident had until Jan. 31 to file a claim with the settlement fund. Claimants needed to fill out a form, and include supporting evidence like photographs and police reports.

Claims Issues

Feinberg told CNBC in an interview that approximately 3,000 of the claims were deficient and missing information. His office was working with these claimants to determine if such information was available, and if these people were eligible for settlement.

GM is not involved in the evaluation or settlement of these claims. Feinberg’s office has the independent authority to determine if a claim has merit, and if so, how much of a settlement should be offered. GM set aside somewhere between $400 and $600 million to fund these settlements. Thus far, no eligible claimant has refused to take the settlement offered.

People who missed the Jan. 31 deadline but believe that a defective ignition switch caused their accident still have the option of filing a lawsuit against GM in court.

If you believe that you or your loved one was part of an accident caused by a defective part, you have options. Contact Riddle & Brantley today, and learn more about what our experienced auto accident and products liability attorneys can do for you.

Call 800-525-7111 or use our case evaluation form to have your claim reviewed for free.