Of the 4,180 individuals claiming injury or death of a loved one through General Motors Co.’s (GM) victims’ compensation fund, 130 have been paid ahead of the Jan. 31 deadline. The fund was established as a result of last year’s ignition switch recall that affected millions of drivers across the country.
Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of GM’s fund, says that so far, approximately 450 claims have been for fatalities and 3,700 were for injuries. GM’s CEO Mary Barra, who initiated Feinberg’s program in August 2014, has not attempted to intervene or appeal any of Feinberg’s decisions, he says. Feinberg himself is utilizing documentation such as photographs, police reports and more to make an assessment of damages and decide which claims are eligible to be compensated through the fund.
GM has reportedly set aside $400 to $600 billion to compensate claimants, but there is no telling whether this number will be enough to cover the total amount assessed by Feinberg. According to a CNBC news report, Feinberg told Phil Lebeau that he had not spoken to Barra in months, and that GM had no say in his decisions regarding the claims.
While Feinberg could confirm that a number of claimants received payments, confidentiality prevented him from discussing the total amount each claimant would receive. He noted that no eligible claimant had rejected an offer yet.
Each claim approved for payment was backed by proof that the defective switch was the proximate cause of the accident, in the form of police reports, an insurance investigation or contemporary photographs, Feinberg said. He deemed as many as 400 claims ineligible and nearly twice that amount lacked sufficient evidence.
Feinberg says that there was a rush to file a claim in the few weeks leading up to the deadline, and that there are still hundreds of claims to be processed because of it. Although two members of Congress called for an extension of the deadline so more people could file, Feinberg said definitively that there would be no extension, and that each decision is final.