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According to compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg, 50 death cases are eligible for money due to crashes caused by faulty General Motors ignition switches.

Kenneth Feinberg’s decision came few days before the deadline to seek payments.

The expert, who was hired by GM to handle death and injury claims, released new totals earlier this week.

Camille Biros, deputy administrator of the compensation fund, says she expects a flurry of claims before January 31 deadline, and the number of deaths and injuries to rise.

Kenneth Feinberg, in an internet posting, determined that as of January 30 the families of 50 people killed and 75 people injured are eligible for payments. The fund has received 338 death claims and 2,730 claims for injuries. Of those, 58 death claims have been rejected as ineligible for compensation, as have 328 injury claims.

The expert is either reviewing or awaiting documentation on 230 additional death claims and 2,327 injury cases.GM ignition switches death toll

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 of them worldwide, the switches can slip out of the “on” position, causing the cars to stall, knocking out power steering and turning off the air bags.

In 2014, GM set aside $400 million to make payments, but conceded that could grow to $600 million. The company’s chief financial officer told analysts earlier in January that those numbers had not changed. Compensation for deaths starts at $1 million.

Camille Biros said that so far the GM claims are following the usual pattern for compensation cases with a large number of claims at the beginning, a lull in the middle, and a large number toward the deadline.

Kenneth Feinberg is among the nation’s most prominent compensation experts. He previously handled payments to victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the BP oil spill.

Claims filed by mail will trickle in next week and will be considered as long as they are postmarked by January 31.

Kenneth Feinberg has promised to decide the claims within 90 to 180 days from when he determines they are substantially complete. His law firm expects to continue working on claims at least through the northern spring, and perhaps into the summer.

The ignition switch debacle, which brought congressional and Justice Department investigations and the maximum $35 million fine from the government’s auto safety agency, touched off a companywide safety review. That brought a total of 84 recalls involving more than 30 million vehicles.

As of Friday, GM had fixed just over 56 per cent of the 2.19 million cars with faulty ignition switches that are still on the road in the US, according to documents filed with federal safety regulators. The company said it could not reach about 80,000 of the car owners.

GM hasn’t been able to get all the owners to have their cars repaired about a year after the recalls started. It’s not unusual for some car owners to ignore recall notices. The average completion rate one-and-a-half years after a recall begins is 75%, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


GM has accepted the findings of a “brutally tough, deeply troubling” report into recalls of its Chevrolet Cobalt over ignition problems which have been linked to 13 deaths.

The carmaker also said it would launch a compensation fund for crash victims and their families.

CEO Mary Barra said the report, which was carried out by former US Attorney Anton Valukas, found “the Cobalt saga was riddled with failures”.

She said 15 employees have been fired.

Five other workers who acted “inappropriately” have been disciplined.

To date, GM has recalled 2.6 million cars with the defective switch.

GM has accepted the findings of a troubling report into recalls of its Chevrolet Cobalt over ignition problems

GM has accepted the findings of a troubling report into recalls of its Chevrolet Cobalt over ignition problems

It took the carmaker more than a decade to report the ignition switch failures, in which the switch can slip out of the “run” position and effectively shut down the car, causing the driver to lose control.

Although the problem has been linked to 13 deaths so far, lawyers for victims put the total at closer to 60.

Mary Barra, in announcing the results of Anton Valukas’s report which involved over 200 employee interviews and more than 40 million documents, promised to “fix the failures in our system”.

However, in a statement, GM emphasized that the report had found no conspiracy or cover-up.

“The Valukas report confirmed that Mary Barra, [and other GM executives] Mike Millikin and Mark Reuss did not learn about the ignition switch safety issues and the delay in addressing them until after the decision to issue a recall was made on January 31, 2014,” GM chairman Tim Solso said.

Last month, GM paid a $35 million fine – the maximum allowed by US law – for its failure to report the ignition switch problems in a timely manner.

Analysts said that GM was hoping this report would be the final word on the matter.

The compensation fund will be run by Kenneth Feinberg, who also led claims processing in the wake of September 11 and the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I will be spending the next few weeks seeking advice and input from all interested parties as to the terms and conditions of such a program,” said Kenneth Feinberg in a statement.

He said the fund would start taking claims on August 1.

GM shares barely budged in the wake of the report. Earlier this week, it reported its best May sales in seven years.

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