GM Ignition Switch Death Toll At 51February 4, 2015
At the close of the deadline for filing a claim with the automaker’s compensation fund, the GM ignition switch death toll stood at 51. The deadline for filing a GM ignition switch death claim with the compensation fund passed on January 31. GM established the compensation fund late last year after reports surfaced that a defective ignition switch led to at least 13 deaths. Drivers and their families who suffered from injuries from the defective ignition switches are still eligible to file independent lawsuits against the automaker.
Defect Tied to GM Ignition Switch Deaths
The GM ignition switch death reports came to light after an investigation revealed the dangerous flay in millions of vehicles. Laboratory tests showed that the ignition switches in over 2.6 million vehicles could move from the “ON” position to the “ACC” position when the switch was bumped or jostled. The defect could cause the vehicle to lose power to its vital safety systems, including power steering, power brakes and the airbag sensors.
Automaker Receives Hundreds of GM Ignition Switch Death Claims
Camille Biro, the deputy administrator for the victim compensation fund, told reporters that the company had received over 4,100 claims, including hundreds of GM ignition switch death claims. Ms. Biro said that the fund would be working on GM ignition switch death and injury claims “through the end of the spring” and that they have “thousands (of claims) to go through.” She described some of the reports as detailing “horrible accidents (and) horrible deaths” attributed to the defect.
Feds Fine Automaker Over GM Ignition Switch Deaths
An investigation into the causes of the GM ignition switch deaths led federal safety agencies to issue record fines to the troubled automaker. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fined the company $35 million for covering up the problems that led to the GM ignition switch deaths. An internal investigation revealed that the engineer who created the switch altered the design, but kept the same part number. This step led to confusion and accusations of a cover-up involving the defective switches.
GM Ignition Switch Death Totals Could Rise
Although the deadline for filing GM ignition switch death claims with the compensation fund has passed, most experts believe that the number of claims will continue to rise. As the company processes more GM ignition switch death and injury claims to the fund, the numbers of deaths and serious injuries related to the defective switch will also increase. The automaker also faces numerous wrongful death an injury lawsuits from drivers unwilling to accept the fund’s terms. As these cases move through the court system, they could also add to the death toll attributed to the faulty part.
Source: USA Today
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