Published On: Tue, Dec 16th, 2014

GM Switch Defect Death Toll Rises To 42 People

At least 42 people have been killed and 58 have been injured in General Motors vehicles that suffered from an ignition switch defect, according to the latest report by the claims administrator.

GM switch defect death toll rises

Kenneth Feinberg, who was hired by GM to oversee its compensation fund, said he has received 251 death claims and 2,075 injury claims since August.

A total 100 of those claims were deemed eligible.

Potential claimants have until 31 January to submit paperwork.

Mr Feinberg, who previously administered claims for the 9/11 victims fund and those harmed by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, has set up a website, for those looking to submit claims.

‘Every eligible person’

GM has set aside an estimated $400m (£256m) to pay out to claimants who were impacted by the defect, which involved ignition switches in millions of GM vehicles that could suddenly twist, thus turning the vehicle off.

GM has come under fire from US regulators and politicians for its failure to identify the problem earlier and alert consumers.

“Our goal with the compensation program has been to reach every eligible person impacted,” GM said in a statement.

“Our focus isn’t on numbers, but to continue doing the right thing for all those who lost loved ones or suffered physical injury.

“To that end, we accept Mr. Feinberg’s determinations for the compensation program.”

GM has been accused of hiding the defect for nearly a decade, despite multiple warnings from staff and complaints from consumers.

The firm has been forced to recall over 29 million cars worldwide this year – more than the total number of vehicles it sold in 2013 – although not all of the recalls were related to the ignition defect.

In April, GM’s chief executive Mary Barra apologised for the fault when she appeared at a congressional hearing over the issue.

“I cannot tell you why it took years for a safety defect to be announced… but I can tell you that we will find out,” said Ms Barra while testifying before a US House of Representatives panel investigating the issue.

In May, GM was fined $35m by the US highway safety administrator for its failure to issue a recall earlier – the maximum amount allowed by law.