|The General Motors Co. faulty ignition-switch death toll now stands at 19, above the company's earlier estimate, and may go higher as a review of compensation claims continues.|
Attorney and compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg —hired by GM to create a claims process and evaluate submissions—released the figure on Monday, his first public update on ignition-switch injury claims. Mr. Feinberg said he continues to evaluate some of the 125 death claims that have been filed as of Friday.
The new figure comes after the auto maker spent months down-playing the death count, saying it knew of only 13 deaths based on the information it had at the time. GM Chief Executive Mary Barra later softened the company's stance when she established the victim compensation fund and delegated the responsibility of determining who was killed or injured to Mr. Feinberg.
"We have previously said that Ken Feinberg and his team will independently determine the final number of eligible individuals, so we accept their determinations for the compensation program," GM said in a statement. "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."
The compensation fund has received a total of 445 claims. Nineteen were certified as deaths while 12 others were certified as legitimate injury claims. Details about all the claims weren't released although no one has yet agreed to take the...