Kenneth Feinberg Announces GM Compensation Fund Is Closed
According to Bloomberg News, as the January 31 deadline of the General Motors Co.’s compensation fund approached, General Motors (GM) settled more than 130 claims. In all, the auto company has received more than 4,000 injury claims. Of these, 450 claims were submitted on behalf of victims who were fatally injured.
Thus far, the fund has compensated some of the victims and the rest of the claims are continuing to be evaluated. In the weeks preceding the deadline, hundreds of applications were filed by attorneys and their clients as well as unrepresented car accident victims.
GM is among the largest auto manufacturers in the world and has spent the bulk of 2014 mired in congressional hearings, auto recalls, and lawsuits relating to defects in the company’s ignition-switches, airbags and brakes.
In total, the auto industry recalled more than 60 million vehicles in the United States in 2014. The industry was plagued with defects in ignition switches, brakes, power steering, airbags and many other mechanical and software defects.
GM was hit quite hard by the recalls and was forced to recall more than 30 million vehicles. The company quickly created a compensation fund to pay accident victims for injuries caused by defective ignition switches in GM vehicles.
The company tapped Kenneth Feinberg, a veteran attorney who in the past has helped BP administer compensation to victims of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, to evaluate victim claims and lead the fund. One of the primary criteria for recovering from the fund is being injured in a GM vehicle that was recalled for a defective ignition switch and the airbag failed to deploy during an accident.
The company is refusing to compensate victims whose airbags did deploy through the compensation fund. These accident victims though have the right to pursue their case in court by retaining an experienced auto accident recall attorney or law firm.
When claimants accept a settlement from GM’s fund, they waive the right to sue. By setting up the fund, GM hoped to reduce the expensive litigation costs and public image issues that often accompany personal injury lawsuits.
As an independent administrator of the fund, Feinberg does not answer to GM and can make offers and decline claims based on a review of the claimant’s data. GM has reserved $600 million to compensate victims, but is willing to replenish the fund if necessary.
The company is also deeply troubled by ongoing lawsuits alleging the company’s recalls devalued the vehicles of GM owners. How those cases will proceed in light of GM’s previous bankruptcy status is unclear.
Feinberg noted that the fund will likely continue to settle claims for the next six months into late spring.
Peterson & Associates, P.C.: Experienced GM Recall Lawyers
The deadline for submitting claims to GM’s fund has passed. However, this does not mean that injured victims are out of luck.
It may be possible to pursue a personal injury lawsuit if you were in fact injured in an accident involving a recalled GM vehicle with a defective ignition switch.
Only an experienced GM recall lawyer can evaluate your case and give you a concrete answer. To learn more about whether you have a case, do not hesitate to contact us.