Litigation

Feinberg Outlines Details For Program To Compensate GM Ignition Switch Claimants

WASHINGTON, D.C. — (Mealey's) Compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg on June 30 outlined the details of a program for compensating claimants alleging death or injury in accidents related to defective General Motors (GM) ignition switches. 

Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, Feinberg said that the GM Ignition Compensation Claims Resolution Facility, funded by GM, will have no aggregate cap and will pay out all claims within 180 days of filing.  In addition, Feinberg said, claimants who have already settled their claims and signed releases will have the opportunity to “rip up the release” and participate in the program.  Feinberg will serve as administrator of the facility. 

To be eligible for compensation, the accident in which the claimant was injured must have occurred prior to Dec. 31, 2014, and must have involved one of the vehicles listed in the protocol.  Those eligible to file claims include drivers, passengers, pedestrians and occupants of the affected vehicle and occupants of other vehicles involved in the accident.  Accidents in which airbags deployed are not eligible for the program.   All claims must be postmarked by midnight Dec. 31, 2014. 

3 Categories, 2 Tracks 

The program recognizes three categories of eligible claims:  individual death claims, individual claims involving catastrophic injuries and claims for less serious physical injuries.  It sets forth two tracks:  Track A/Presumptive Compensation and Track B/Complete Economic Analysis.  Track A claims will be paid within 90 days of filing; Track B claims will be paid within 180 days of filing. 

For death claims under Track A, the age of the victim, the victim’s income at the time of the accident is used to determine economic loss.  Once that figure is determined, uniform amounts for noneconomic loss will be added, specifically, $1 million for the death of the decedent, $300,000 for a surviving spouse and $300,000 for surviving dependents.   Death claims filed in Track B require more substantial documentation and will include review of “case-specific information and circumstances of the decedent that the claimant believes the Facility should consider in determining the total value of the claim.”  

For catastrophic injury claims submitted under Track A, economic loss will be determined in the same way as death claims.  Noneconomic damages will include the value of a long term life-care plan. Track B catastrophic injury claims will be treated in the same way as Track B death claims. 

Recovery for less serious claims will depend on the level of treatment required by the claimant.  Hospitalization for one overnight hospital stay will result in a $20,000 payment; hospitalization for more than 32 nights will result in a payment of $500,000. 

Release 

Those receiving compensation via the facility will be required to sign a release of all past and future claims.  Prior payments made by GM for ignition-switch-related injuries will be offset. 

The facility has established a website at www.GMIgnitionCompensation.com.  Claim forms will be available via the website. 

Feinberg serves as special master for the federal Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund and administers the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund and the Boston Marathon bombing victim assistance fund.

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