Claims for compensation from GM for faulty switch rise 30 percent

Claims for compensation from GM for faulty switch rise 30 percent

By Julia Edwards, Ben Klayman and Jessica Dye

The number of claims of injury and death linked to a faulty ignition switch in General Motors Co cars rose 30 percent last week to 1,130, according to a report on Monday from the lawyer overseeing a program set up to compensate accident victims.

Since Aug. 1, claims related to 24 deaths and 16 injuries have been deemed eligible for compensation by the program, which is being overseen by lawyer Kenneth Feinberg. The number of eligible deaths is up one from last week.

Claims for less serious injuries led the rise in claims, reaching 886 from 644. Less serious injuries, those that require hospitalization but did not cause permanent damage, will likely receive lower compensation offers than will claims for death or serious injury.

The program will continue to receive applications until Dec. 31 on behalf of individuals injured or killed in accidents they say were caused by the switch problem.

The switch can slip out of position, stalling the vehicle and disabling air bags. The fault led to the recall of 2.6 million vehicles earlier this year.

In the initial update after the program’s launch, Feinberg’s office reported approving 19 death claims, more than the 13 deaths the U.S. automaker had officially acknowledged. As of Friday, a total of 165 death claims had been submitted to the program, up from 153 previously.

GM executives have said Feinberg will determine how many people are eligible for compensation under the program and that the fund has not been capped.

Under the program’s protocol, eligible death claims will receive at least $1 million, which could increase depending on factors such as whether the deceased had dependants. GM has set aside $400 million to cover the compensation costs, and said the total could rise by another $200 million.

Feinberg’s office previously said it has made the first cash offers to about 15 people. At least three families have accepted settlement offers from the program.