Expert lays out GM claim protocol

In this Jan. 12, 2009 file photo, the General Motors logo is on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. General Motors is offering free loaner cars to owners of compacts that are being recalled for a deadly ignition switch defect, the company said Wednesday, March 12, 2014. The company also will offer a $500 cash allowance to owners who want to buy or lease a new GM vehicle. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBN) — Compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg on Monday laid out the protocol and formula for people to file claims against General Motors for crashes caused by the company’s faulty ignition switches, which led to the recall of millions of vehicles.

Feinberg also handled compensation payments for victims after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the BP oil spill, the Virginia Tech and Newtown school shootings, and the Boston Marathon bombings.

On Monday, he explained how people can file claims to be paid by General Motors for wrongful death or injuries sustained in crashes where ignition switches failed on certain vehicle makes and models. Only people involved in an actual crash as a driver, passenger or pedestrian where the air bag did not deploy are eligible to file a claim.

Once they can prove that, the victim’s information is put into a formula to figure out how much they might get from GM.

“The age of the victim, how much that victim was earning at the time of the accident and whether they have any dependents. That is all we need to calculate and track an award, based on national statistics about what that person would have earned over a lifetime,” Feinberg said.

In addition to the amount calculated by the formula, Feinberg said in cases of wrongful death, they will add $1 million in pain and suffering for the victim and $300,000 for any surviving spouse, or dependents.

Anyone who agrees to compensation from the fund will have to sign something saying they will not sue General Motors.

Claims can be filed from Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. Feinberg promises payment in 90 to 180 days in most cases.

He also said he will meet with any victim or family member privately, or over the phone, to discuss any extraordinary circumstances in their case, that might cause them to elect not to go with the current protocol or formula.

Feinberg would not speculate how many claims might be filed for wrongful death or injury and what the ultimate cost to General Motors might be.

However, GM links 13 deaths to a defective ignition switch in cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion. But trial lawyers and lawmakers say claims of wrongful death and injury could total in the hundreds.

For a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding claims, click here.

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