BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The death toll rises. Forty-two deaths have now been positively linked to accidents involving faulty ignition switches in General Motors’ cars. That’s according to an attorney for the victims’ compensation fund—but auto safety advocates say the number is much higher.
Meghan McCorkell has more on the increase.
GM originally linked just 13 deaths to their faulty ignition switches. That number has more than tripled.
Sixteen-year-old Amber Marie Rose was a healthy, active teenager but in 2005, on a dark Charles County road, she lost control of her Chevy Cobalt. GM admits her death—along with 41 others—is linked to their faulty ignition switches.
“I’ve talked to so many more families than 42,” said Laura Christian, Amber’s mother. “And it’s horrifying.”
Christian believes the number is much higher and that GM is only compensating families they don’t want to face in court.
“It’s not that they’re giving money out of the generosity of their heart. They’re trying to minimize their risk of litigation so they’re paying off the best cases,” she said.
GM started a victims’ compensation fund this summer after admitting the company waited years to issue a recall for the faulty switches.
“Whatever it costs to pay all eligible claims under the protocol…they will pay it,” said Kenneth Feinberg, GM compensation fund.
The compensation fund has received 251 death claims so far and another 2,075 injury claims. Of those claims filed, just 100 have been deemed eligible for compensation. Another 445 claims are still under review—some dating back a decade.
“Trying to reconstruct a link between the ignition switch and the accident is a challenge,” Feinberg said.
For Christian, this isn’t about the money.
“There’s no amount of money that will ever make our lives whole again,” she said. “And GM did this intentionally.”
She wants to see someone behind bars.
The compensation fund will accept claims until January 31.
Christian tells WJZ families of those who died tell her they’ve received an average of $3 million from the compensation fund.
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