No cap on money for GM ignition switch victims

By WEEK Producer

Credit: MGN online

No cap on money for GM ignition switch victims

June 30, 2014 Updated Jun 30, 2014 at 3:00 PM CDT

The lawyer charged with overseeing GM’s compensation fund for faulty ignition switches says he has sole authority to determine the awards claimants can receive - and there is no cap on the money available for victims.

Kenneth Feinberg today refused to speculate how many deaths and injuries he'll end up determining were caused by the ignition switches, which in some cases shut down power to steering wheels and prevented airbags from deploying.

Feinberg laid out the process he'll use for a fund that will accept claims August 1 through December 31.

GM attributes 13 deaths to the defective ignition switches, but some plaintiff attorneys and lawmakers say the number is much higher.

Feinberg laid out a detailed summary of who may be eligible for claims.

They include anyone in a car with a faulty switch, any occupant in another car impacted by the GM vehicle, and any pedestrian injured or killed by the GM vehicle.

And Feinberg emphasized that the driver's actions are not relevant: if the vehicle was defective, the claim will paid.

Feinberg said payouts will depend on the victim’s age, earnings or earnings potential, family members, and other factors.

Feinberg stated flatly that his decision is final and can't be challenged by GM.

"If the airbag deployed in the accident, you're ineligible. Airbag deployment, seat belt retention deployment, means the power is on in the automobile. Ineligible. It couldn't have been the ignition switch," said Feinberg.

Feinberg is promising payment to most victims within 90 to 180 days after a legitimate claim is made.

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