WASHINGTON, DC (WWJ) The number of deaths related to the General Motors ignition switch recall has now risen from 13 to 19. This as the expert determining compensation in the fund says — at this point — they have approved 19 claims.
“How many death claims there will be–pure speculation–but obviously, it will be more than 19,” said attorney Ken Feinberg.
Feinberg has received 445 claims, and in addition to approving 19 related to deaths, 12 others have been approved involving injuries.
But the most of the rest of the claims have not yet been rejected.
“We have either not gotten to them yet, or instructed the claimant, ‘Go back and get us some more documentation,” said Feinberg.”
General Motors has said that the number of deaths will likely change as time goes on, and more is learned. GM’s way of determining fatalities, is very different from the standards that Feinberg is using.
“We don’t require such a rigorous standard, ours is more lenient,” said Feinberg. “Our standard is ‘Was the ignition switch a substantial cause of the accident.”
Feinberg also expects more claims to come in as people gather the documentation needed to file a claim. The deadline for filing remains July 31st.
University of Detroit Mercy Law Professor Larry Dubin says it’s very likely that many of the claimants won’t be able to meet Feinberg’s standards. But, he says it makes sense for them to file a claim anyway.
“Even the possibility of collecting under this fund. It’s a lot easier to try to gain compensation that way, than by going to court.”
And those who are rejected can still file a lawsuit against General Motors.
General Motors promised to turn the entire process over to Feinberg, and, he says, so far they’ve been true to their word.
“GM has been absolutely hands off and allowed us to go forward and process these claims.”