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Sunday, November 16, 2014

The GM Compensation Process - An Inside View

Alternative victim compensation programs have emerged to expedite resolution of disputes. Today's post is shared from 

WASHINGTON — If this Monday is like almost every other one this fall, the death toll from General Motors’ defective ignition switch will rise.

Inside a hushed suite of law offices here, 500 miles away from the automaker’s Detroit headquarters, the victim-compensation team led by Kenneth R. Feinberg will post its weekly update of the number of death and injury claims it has found to be eligible for payment by the automaker. G.M. is Mr. Feinberg’s client, paying him for his work, and weighing in behind the scenes on dozens of cases. But Mr. Feinberg has already identified well more than twice as many deaths from the defective switch than the company did — 32 instead of 13 — and is on pace to pinpoint many more

It is an unusual process, intended to show the company living up to its “civic duty” to help victims, as its chief executive, Mary T. Barra, has put it, while also sparing the automaker long and costly lawsuits. But in giving Mr. Feinberg sole discretion to determine who the victims are and how much money they should receive, G.M. could end up paying more money to more people than the courts would have allowed.

The review process is confidential, but recently, Mr. Feinberg and his deputy, Camille Biros, agreed to provide The New York Times with a glimpse of how they evaluate claims. They answered questions, allowed a reporter into the windowless conference room of Mr. Feinberg’s law offices where they make the final decisions and showed a handful of claims, with names and additional details concealed to protect claimants’ identities.

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  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.