19 Families Receive Compensation for Deaths Caused by Faulty GM Ignition Switches

GM Ignition Switch LawsuitsYesterday Bloomberg News reported that General Motors (GM) has received claims of 125 fatalities linked to defective ignition switches in several of their vehicle models.  Of those 125 claims, payouts for 19 families have been approved so far.

The GM Ignition Switch Recall 2014

In February of this year, GM issued a recall on about 2.6 million vehicles because it was discovered that the ignition switches in these cars had the potential to inadvertently shut off when jarred.  When power is suddenly cut from the engine, the power steering goes out and the air bags are deactivated.  Severe injuries and deaths have resulted from this defect because the shut off has occurred while the vehicle is driving down the road, causing tragic accidents.

The recall  for ignition-related defects has now been expanded to 16.5 million cars in North America.  GM models sold in the U.S. that are currently included in the compensation program include:

  •  Chevy Cobalt and HHR
  •  Saturn Ion and Sky
  •  Pontiac G4, G5 and Solstice.

Investigations of Faulty GM Ignition Switches

Complaints from consumers, dealers and others involved in abnormal crashes of GM vehicles have been mounting for at least a decade, as revealed by an internal investigation.  It was discovered that GM had replaced the ignition switches on some Chevy Cobalts and Saturn Ions without alerting the public or changing the part number as required.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been under scrutiny for deciding not to open a formal investigation of the ignition-switch failures in 2007 and 2010.

Who Will Be Eligible for GM Payouts?

According to Kenneth Feinberg (the lawyer hired by GM to determine the validity of claims), the official tally of claimants right now only includes the drivers of the recalled vehicles.  The legal definition used for GM’s compensation fund, however, is broader and makes more people eligible for payment.  This includes pedestrians if they were struck by a vehicle because of a faulty ignition switch, and the occupants of other vehicles involved in a related crash.

In July, GM said it was setting aside $400-$600 million for the compensation fund to pay victims.  As stated before, 19 families so far will be receiving compensation.  Figures released yesterday showed that 445 claims to the compensation fund have been made this year, including 262 hospitalizations and 58 serious injury claims.  Of the injury claims, 12 have been ruled valid and the others are still being vetted.

Dave Roman, a spokesman for GM, stated, “What is most important is that we are doing the right thing for those who lost loved ones and for those who suffered physical injury.”

While it is good that the automaker is now addressing the problem, it seems apparent that they tried to cover up the defect for a long time and put millions of people at risk.  The acting administrator of the NHTSA has criticized GM for putting its own reputation ahead of the safety of its customers.

Have You Been a Victim of a Faulty GM Ignition Switch?

The experienced personal injury attorneys at the Lieser Law Firm can help you pursue a product liability claim to recover damages for your injury or receive compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one.

Contact us today for a FREE legal consultation.