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Six new death, injury claims approved by GM switch fund

General Motors World Headquarters - Six new death, injury claims approved by GM switch fund

By Jessica Dye

A program to compensate the victims of a faulty ignition switch in General Motors vehicles found last week that the part was linked to two additional deaths and four injuries, bringing the total number of eligible claims to 67, according to a report on Monday.

As of Friday, the program, which began accepting claims on Aug. 1, had received 1,851 claims for deaths and serious injuries linked to the switch, a 4 percent increase from the previous week. The totals were reported by the office of Kenneth Feinberg, a lawyer who was tapped by GM to oversee the program.

GM has been criticized for waiting 11 years to recall millions of cars with ignition-switch problems that have been linked to multiple fatal crashes. The switch can slip out of position and cut power to air bags and brakes and has prompted the recall of 2.6 million vehicles.

Once a claim is submitted, Feinberg and his office review it to determine whether it is eligible for compensation. Last week, Feinberg approved two new death claims, bringing the total to 32. The report also said that as of Friday, a total of 35 claims for injuries had deemed eligible, including 30 for physical injuries requiring hospitalization and five for catastrophic ones that caused permanent damage.

So far, 40 offers for compensation have been made, and 28 have been accepted, according to a spokeswoman for the program.

The increase in claims filings has slowed from the previous week, in which the number of filings jumped 12 percent. Feinberg previously said that he expected submissions to level off between the program’s first and final months. Claims must be submitted by Dec. 31.

GM has given Feinberg – a Washington attorney who has overseen compensation programs for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and Deepwater Horizon oil spill, among others – free rein to approve or reject claims. The amount of compensation has not been capped and the company has set aside at least $400 million to cover its costs.