Four more people were added this week to the list of those killed as while driving in General Motors vehicles that crashed as a result of faulty ignition switches that necessitated the recall of nearly 2.6 million cars last year.
That brings the total number to 104, according to the latest update from Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator the $550 million victims fund established by the automaker.
Feinberg and his team still have to process another 26 applications for death benefits, the report notes. Additionally, there are 469 applications for injury benefits, including 52 applications for Category One benefits, which cover people who suffered lost limbs, brain damage or pervasive burns in crashes.
The fund, which stopped accepting claims at the end of January, has received 4,342 claims for benefits: 474 death benefits, 289 Category One injuries and 3,579 more for Category Two injuries. The fund still has a total 589 injury claims to review.
The fund was initially established with $400 million, but the automaker noted it could rise as high as $600 million, although GM CEO Mary Barra said there would ultimately be no limit on the fund. GM raised it to the current level of $550 million last month.
(Court upholds GM’s bankruptcy shield from death claims. For more, Click Here.)
The problem with the switches is sometimes they slipped from the “on” to the “accessory” position causing a loss of power to the vehicles’ steering and airbags resulting in a loss of control of the vehicle that caused accidents where the airbags didn’t deploy.
(Click Here for details about GM execs being deposed for ignition switch lawsuits.)
After a lengthy investigation it was determined that some GM engineers knew about the problem as early as 2003. The automaker finally began recalling the cars after pressure from federal regulators and the public mounted.
(To see more about GM engaging in a cover up of the ignition switch problem, Click Here.)
The issues regarding the cars doesn’t stop with the benefits program, several lawsuits about the switches have been filed against GM. The company won the first round of court battles, but it’s not the first or the last suit filed on behalf of those affected by the faulty switches.