The death toll from crashes involving General Motors cars with defective ignition switches has climbed to 57.
The total is one more than last week. It was posted Feb. 23 on an Internet site by compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg.
Feinberg and his aides are checking claims filed or postmarked before a Jan. 31 deadline to determine which are eligible for compensation. Each eligible death claim is worth at least $1 million under his guidelines. Feinberg was hired by GM to make payments.
As of Friday, Feb. 20, he received 479 death claims and 3,866 injury claims. Of the injury claims, 94 will get compensation, up from 87 a week ago.
Feinberg has received a total of 4,345 claims, up 33 from the 4,312 filed as of Feb. 13. Of the claims filed by Friday, 666 were deemed ineligible and 151 are eligible for payments. Feinberg is reviewing or seeking documents for the rest.
The total number of claims could rise slightly, said Camille Biros, the fund’s deputy administrator. A few claims arrived since Friday, and Feinberg’s office is verifying that they were postmarked before the Jan. 31 deadline, she said.
Detroit-based GM was aware of faulty ignition switches on Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars for more than a decade, but it didn’t recall them until 2014. On 2.6 million cars worldwide, the switches can slip out of the “on” position, causing the vehicles to stall, knocking out power steering and turning off the air bags.
Fienberg’s office has said that it likely will take until late spring to sort through all of the claims it has received.
Those who agree to payments give up their right to sue the automaker.
Last year, GM set aside $400 million to make payments, but it conceded that could grow to $600 million. Feinberg has said GM has placed no cap on the amount of money he can spend. At the end of last year, Feinberg had paid out $93 million in claims, according to GM’s annual report.
GM still faces 104 wrongful death and injury lawsuits due to the faulty ignition switches, as well as 108 class-action lawsuits alleging that the ignition switch debacle reduced the value of customers’ cars and trucks.
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