Following up from my blog on the famous “switch from hell” GM Fiasco, Kenneth Feinberg, a compensation expert was hired by GM. In an article of May 3, 2014, in the Journal News, it was reported that he met with a Texas lawyer, Robert Hilliard who represents 53 families who say their relatives were killed in the crashes due to the switch defect. He also represents 273 injury victims, 63 of whom suffered “catastrophic” injuries. Mr. Hilliard represents victims who were injured before GM’s Chapter 11 Bankruptcy reorganization in July, 2009, and most who were injured after the bankruptcy. GM is seeking a Bankruptcy Court Decision affirming that GM was legally excused from most old GM liability issues which means GM may not have to pay victims who were hurt before bankruptcy. The attorney for victims who suffered injuries before the GM Bankruptcy must prove GM deliberately concealed the ignition switch problem. If this is done, GM would lose the liability protection from their bankruptcy and would have to pay victims from before the bankruptcy. GM has only agreed that 12 deaths and 31 accidents in the U.S. are connected to the faulty switch, all front crashes in which the air bags failed to deploy.

In an article on July 1, 2014, in USA Today for The Journal News Feinberg explains GM victim payments. Victims could get as little as a few thousand dollars or as much as millions of dollars. Feinberg said the compensation fund will accept applications for August 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014 and stated his work will be done by the middle of 2015. He will determine payment amounts using a modified version of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ calculations of economic loss in human tragedies. There is no limit on the amount of GM’s money he can spend. Some of the awards are as follows:

Death Compensation:

$2.2 million for a 17 year old student, no wages, no dependents;
$4 million for a 25 year old earning $64,000 a year, married with two children;
$5.1 million for a 40 year old earning $75,000 a year, married with no children.

Catastrophic Injury:

$7.8 million for a 10 year old paraplegic who will need care for the rest of her life.

Lesser Injuries:

$20,000 for one night in a hospital;
$500,000 for 34 days of hospitalization treatment, broken bones and a head injury.

Those who put in a claim to Feinberg agree not to sue GM. In February and March, 2014, GM recalled 2.6 million 2003 – 2011 GM small cars worldwide. 2.19 million of these recalls were in the USA. As of July, 2014, GM has only admitted 13 deaths in 54 crashes. Feinberg emphasized that every occupant of the recalled GM cars involved in a crash can file a claim regardless of where the person was sitting. Pedestrians and occupants of other vehicles involved in crashes with the recalled cars can also file a claim. This will boost GM’s 13 linked death to the recall. GM expects 90% of claim to be settled through the fund.

Feinberg ran a no limit settlement fund with the September 11th terrorist attacks which paid out $7.1 billion in taxpayer money of the 2077 claims that were settled.

GM’s switch problem grew as of July, 2014. GM recalled an additional 7.55 million more cars extended to larger vehicles. Most of these vehicles in the latest recall has pushed GM to identify 7 crashes involved 8 injured parties and 3 fatalities. Finally, in September, 2014, in, GM will pay for 19 deaths linked to the faulty ignition switch, up from 13 deaths. So far, 125 death claims and 320 injury claims have been submitted to Feinberg’s firm. The cost of the “switch from hell” will be in the $100 millions of dollars.

If you, or someone you know, have been injured as a result of a vehicle defect, call the Law Office of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC at (914) 288-0800.