General Motors Co. (GM) has received 125 claims of fatalities so far related to defective ignition switches in its cars, according to the first batch of applications to a victims’ compensation fund.
Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer hired by GM to determine which requests are valid, said families in 19 of those cases will get a payout, while the remaining cases are still being vetted. GM has so far discussed only 13 fatalities connected to the defective switches, which could be inadvertently shut off when jarred, cutting power to the engine and deactivating air bags.
“GM was asking its engineers can you definitively say ignition switch defects caused the accident,” Feinberg said in a Bloomberg Television interview today. “Our standard, as you know, is much more liberal. It’s easier to apply. It’s a legal standard, was the ignition switch the proximate cause, a substantial likelihood as the cause of the accident.”