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GM Ignition Switch Defect Now Linked to 124 Deaths

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 8/25/2015 Kelly Pleskot
2007 Chevrolet Cobalt Sedan Front View© Provided by MotorTrend 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt Sedan Front View

Last year, General Motors hired attorney Kenneth Feinberg to review compensation claims for victims of the ignition switch recall. Now that the review is complete, the death toll surrounding the switches has risen to 124 fatalities.

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In his report, Feinberg also linked the ignition switches to 275 injuries, the vast majority of which were minor injuries requiring hospitalization or outpatient treatment within 48 hours of an accident. The remaining 17 injuries were serious, leading to permanent brain damage, quadriplegia, or similar types of trauma. Despite the large number of fatalities and injuries reported, about 90 percent of the 4,343 claims that Feinberg processed were deemed ineligible.

Death claims approved by Feinberg's office were eligible for compensation of up to $1 million, not including $300,000 for each dependent and the surviving spouse. Major injuries, however, often call for payouts exceeding those from death claims. Victims with minor injuries could receive between $20,000 and $500,000. In total, GM has allotted $625 million for its victim compensation fund.

GM recalled more than 2.6 million vehicles last year because of the defective switches. In certain vehicles, the driver's knee or a heavy key chain can inadvertently move the switch out of the "run" position, cutting off power to the engine. After the ignition switch recalls surfaced, GM ended up recalling more than 30 million additional vehicles for a variety of issues as part of a company-wide safety review.

Source: GM Ignition Compensation, Automotive News (Subscription Required)

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