Automobile powerhouse General Motors is expected to pay up to $600 million to compensate victims of a flawed ignition switch that is said to be tied to at least 13 deaths.
The problem with the ignition switch caused vehicles to shut off while driving, disabling important safety features such as air bags, anti-lock brakes, and power steering. Furthermore, GM admitted that it knew about the ignition problem for nearly 10 years.
According to reports, General Motors recalled 2.6 million cars for defective switches starting in February 2014, touching off a recall crisis at the company that has increased to nearly 29 million recalled vehicles. However, only owners of the original 2.6 million recalled vehicles are eligible for compensation through a fund set up by General Motors.
This exclusion prompted the filing of a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan in New York City against General Motors on behalf of 658 people who were injured or killed in crashes allegedly caused by the faulty ignition switches. The lawsuit seeks in excess of $75,000 in damages for each plaintiff in crashes involving the original 2.6 million cars as well other cars with faulty switches. The lawsuit names 29 people who were killed in crashes and 629 who were injured.
As it pertains to the victims who were part of the original 2.6 million recalled vehicles, those plaintiffs are eligible to file a claim with the compensation fund, which began accepting claims August 1st, 2014. While these specific plaintiffs can file a claim with the fund and still proceed with the lawsuit, should these individuals chose to accept the compensation from the fund, they would have to remove themselves from the lawsuit.
General Motors has hired an expert in victim compensation to design a formula for compensating victims of the faulty ignition system. The formula offers the families of deceased victims over $1 million each, in addition to payments for lost wages, medical expenses, and other losses. For example, the family of a 25-year old with two children earning $46,400 a year would be owed about $4 million using this formula.
According to General Motors, the $600 million price point articulated by the auto manufacturer merely represents an estimate based on data it has on eligible vehicles, reported accidents, and claims it has received. Company officials did note that if claims were to surpass the $600 million mark, General Motors will pay them.
It is clear that GM chose profits and reckless behavior over safety and played Russian roulette with lives of its consumers. After concealing its fraud for over a decade, General Motors chooses now to seek the recall of millions of defective vehicles. It is our duty as consumers to demand that General motors and other abusers of public trust, be held criminally and civilly responsible for the many lost lives and injuries affected by corporate egregious oversight and indifference.
If you or a family member or friend were injured by a defective or unsafe product or drug please call our skilled personal injury attorneys. We will fight to enforce your rights and see that you obtain the fair compensation that you are entitled to. The initial consultation is free.