A major auto recall is underway, accompanied with an attempt to settle
numerous injury claims. This recall is of particular interest to our law
firm because the defect has reportedly claimed numerous lives and, beyond
typical recall remedies, GM is extending settlement offers to those affected.
According to our local ABC affiliate, in the first nine days of the recall
period (which will last until the end of the year) the team administering
General Motors' response received 125 claims, including 63 alleging
death, although whether or not the claims are truly valid and eligible
Ignition Switch Defects Lead to GM Recall
The Wall Street Journal provided a bit more detail on the recall which
involves a whopping 2.6 million cars. The issue is a faulty ignition switch
that could slip from the "on" setting causing the vehicle to
stall and disabling the air bags. According to the WSJ report, GM was
aware of the underlying defect for more than a decade but only issued
a recall to repair the cars until February. The report also suggests a
new ignition-key problem arose this week that could lead to window-switches
on certain SUVs catching fire.
GM's "Compensation Plan"
Payouts under GM's compensation plan and are expected to range from
$20,000 to several million dollars. Claimants would need to show they
were injured or their loved one died in a crash that involved a GM vehicle
on the recall list for the defective ignition switch. A police report
or similar trustworthy record would need to show that the air bags failed
to deploy. Fatalities would, under the plan, automatically qualify for
$1 million in pain and suffering damages beyond other damages
Kenneth Feinberg has been hired by GM to oversee the claims and compensation
program. He noted that 65 of the first 120 claims involved families who
allegedly lost a loved one in accidents caused by the defect, another
dozen involved catastrophic injuries, and the remainder involved hospitalizations
purportedly tied to the GM defect.
Feinberg added that the auto giant is just beginning to review the claims
and expects it will take until after Labor Day to announce initial conclusions
regarding eligibility. Ultimately he hopes that once an application is
ruled eligible, payment can be made within 90 days on simple matters and
180 days for complex cases.
Recalls and the Right to Compensation for Injuries and Wrongful Death
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publishes a booklet
explaining the recall program and its safety goals. Recalls can be issued
when: a) a vehicle or piece of equipment fails to meet Federal Motor Vehicle
Safety Standards or b) a safety-related defect exists. Manufacturers can
remedy a defect by repair, replacement, or refund.
Beyond the vehicle fix, victims injured by a defect that is the subject
of a recall have the right to compensation for their injuries, just like
any other wrongfully injured party. A program such as GM's will likely
require waiving other legal claims in return for the injury compensation
payments. They are essentially settlement offers and, as always, we would
urge the injured and the grieving obtain legal counsel before signing anything.
If you were injured or lost a family member in the Florida Panhandle region
due to faulty GM ignition switches or another recall-related defect, call
our law firm. We will work with you to get the compensation you deserve.