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Over 100 New Claims Submitted to GM’s Settlement Fund

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The number of people submitting applications to General Motors’ (GM’s) ignition switch settlement fund continues to grow. Established in August 2014, the fund provides compensation to those applicants who can show they were injured (or that a loved one was killed) in an accident related to a faulty ignition switch.

The initial deadline for applications was December 31, 2014, but that deadline was later extended to January 31, 2015, to accommodate new vehicle owners who had not had sufficient time to review and apply for compensation.

Now, as the second deadline approaches, GM has received over 100 new claims, bringing the total number to just over 2,700. Of these, over 300 involve wrongful death, over 200 catastrophic injuries, and the rest injuries that involved hospitalization, but that were less serious.

GM Ignition Switch Fund Makes Payments to Eligible Applicants

According to GM’s Ignition Compensation Claims Resolution Facility, as of January 9, 2015, the total number of claims deemed eligible for compensation had risen to 112. A total of 45 of these involved the death of the alleged victim. Over 700 claims still remain under review. Nearly 800 were rejected because they were submitted without any documentation.

According to a recent report in Reuters, the auto maker has set aside about $400 million to cover eligible claims made through the fund. That number may increase if more cases are deemed eligible, or if more cases were submitted over the last couple weeks of January.

Families who file eligible wrongful death claims will receive $1 million in addition to $300,000 for surviving spouses and children.

GM Drags Its Feet on Necessary Recalls

GM made the first of many recalls related to the potentially defective ignition switch in February of 2014. At the time, the auto maker warned vehicle owners that the ignition switch—particularly if the key ring was heavy—could inadvertently turn to the “off” position, robbing the steering, brakes, and air bags of power. Should such a switch off occur during an accident, it could stop the air bags from deploying, which could result in catastrophic injuries for occupants.

An investigation into the issue revealed that the company first became aware of a potential problem as early as 2001, during pre-production of the Saturn Ion, but failed to take any corrective action. Several other incidences along the way brought the issue to light, and in 2005, a GM engineer suggested redesigning the key head, but the automaker rejected the suggestion and continued on as usual.

Later that year, however, GM did send out a bulletin explaining that when car owners added weight to their key chains, it could cause the ignition switch to turn off, and advised dealers to warn customers to remove unneeded items from their key chains.

GM Ignition Switch Defect Lawsuits

Over the course of 2014, GM recalled more vehicles because of the potential ignition switch defect than any carmaker had ever recalled in a single year (over 30 million worldwide). In addition to those claims submitted to the GM ignition switch defect fund, several plaintiffs have filed individual GM ignition switch lawsuits in an attempt to recover damages in court.