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Over 100 New Claims Filed with GM Ignition Switch Settlement Fund

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On August 1, 2014, General Motors (GM) established a settlement fund to compensate victims of car accidents related to the GM ignition switch defect. Those who are able to show that their injuries—or a loved one’s death—were related to the defect are eligible to receive compensation through the fund.

The original deadline for applications to the fund was December 31, 2014, but GM later extended that deadline to January 31, 2015 to accommodate newly registered vehicle owners who were only recently informed of the ignition switch recall.

A recent Reuters report indicated that at the end of December 2014, a total of 104 new claims had been filed with the fund, bringing the total to 2,430.

GM Deems About 100 Cases Eligible for Compensation

So far, GM has allocated about $600 million for the settlement fund. According to the Reuters report, they have so far determined that the following claims are eligible for payment:

  • 42 deaths
  • 7 severe injuries
  • 51 other injuries

At the same time, they ruled the following were not:

  • 306 because they were ineligible
  • 568 because of lack of sufficient paperwork
  • 764 because they contained no documentation at all

Nearly 700 remain under review.

GM Ignition Switch Defect Linked to Injuries and Deaths

GM has been under fire for over a year now because of the ignition switch defect, and controversy over the way they’ve handled it. In millions of older model GM vehicles, the switch can inadvertently turn to the “off” position, disabling features like power steering and air bag deployment. When this occurs during an accident, victims could be severely injured or killed if the air bags do not deploy as expected.

Evidence revealed during GM ignition switch lawsuits has indicated that the company was aware of the issue for at least a decade, but failed to take the appropriate action to protect the public. So far, over 40 deaths and many more injuries have been linked to the problem.

GM Knew About the Problem as Early as 2001

According to a timeline review of GM’s ignition switch difficulties, the company first became aware of a potential problem with their ignition switch in 2001, when the defect showed up in pre-production testing for the Saturn Ion. A New York Times report confirms that GM received reports as early as 2001 of the potential safety defect in its vehicles. The company claimed then that a design change solved the issue. In 2003, the defect was reported again, and blamed on a “heavy” key ring.

In 2004, the company learned that if a driver bumped the switch—in this case, in a Chevy Cobalt—the switch could turn to the off position.

Despite these and other early warnings, the company failed to implement a broad-based recall until February 2014. Last year, the company broke all records for recalling the most vehicles in one year.

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