|The death toll linked to General Motors’ defective ignition switch has now more than doubled from the company’s original estimate.|
Twenty-seven wrongful death claims filed to the company’s victim compensation program have been deemed eligible for payment, according to a weekly update posted on the program’s website on Monday. For months after it began recalling cars with the faulty switch, G.M. estimated that 13 people had died in accidents linked to the defect, though executives held out the possibility that the number could rise.
G.M. has given Kenneth R. Feinberg, the victim compensation expert who is running the company’s payment program, sole discretion to determine the number of eligible claims for deaths and injuries associated with the faulty switch — a flaw that can cause power to cut out in a moving car, disabling air bags, power steering and power brakes. This year, G.M. has recalled 2.6 million cars that could have the faulty switch defect, more than a decade after engineers inside the company first spotted a problem.
As of Friday, the Feinberg program had received a total of 1,371 claims, 178 of them for wrongful deaths, and had accepted a total of 52 claims for payment. Many of the others are still under review, awaiting further evidence. Some have been rejected, though the fund did not report how many.
Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 firstname.lastname@example.org have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.