Compensation Claim Deadline Extended for Victims of Defective GM Ignition Switch

The deadline to file an injury or death claim related to General Motors Co.’s ignition switch defect has been extended by one month. Wall Street Journal reports that the GM compensation expert extended the deadline as a result of pressure from safety advocates, politicians and attorneys.

The initial claim period was from August 1st to December 31st. With the new deadline, families of people who have been injured or killed as a result of the ignition switch defect have until January 31st to file their claims. “Because of our determination to provide comprehensive notice and give each claimant an opportunity to file a claim in a timely manner, we have decided to extend the filing deadline,” the expert stated.

There has been heightened pressure following reports last week that the family of a woman who died was never informed that the accident was linked to a defective ignition switch. The fatal Saturn ion crash occurred in December 2003.

GM has come under intense scrutiny over the ignition switch defect, which led to the recall of 2.6 million vehicles. The problem is that the key can switch out of the “run” position and into the “accessory” position when there is too much weight on the key or a jarring event, such as a bump in the road, occurs. The automaker has been criticized for being aware of the problem a decade before recalling the cars. GM Chief Executive Mary Barra announced the creation of the fund in response to the backlash.

According to WSJ, 33 legitimate death claims have been confirmed by the compensation fund as of Friday. Whether or not claims are eligible and the amount to be compensated is at the sole discretion of the fund’s expert. There is no cap on the payouts and in the case of death claims an additional $1 million is added to the total amount. GM has allocated $400 million for the fund and could retrieve an additional $200 million if necessary.

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