NEW YORK – A major U.S. carmaker is paying at least $1 million to victims of faulty ignition switches in several popular car models. General Motors Co. set up the $400 million compensation fund after dozens of people died because drivers would inadvertently shut off the engine and disable power steering and air bags.
Last year, the automaker recalled several models of Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other vehicles with ignition switch issues and paid a then record-setting $35 million fine to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The administration claims GM knew about the faulty ignition switches but delayed issuing a recall for years.
“So far, over 4,000 claims have been submitted against the automaker,” auto recall attorney Ross Cellino said. “Hundreds of those are death claims.”
The compensation fund noted 80 death claims have been approved. Every claim was linked to the company’s delayed recall of 2.6 million cars.
“It’s important for all automakers to take responsibility for their mistakes and own up to it as quickly as possible,” Cellino said. “Many of those lives could have been saved; these are people who didn’t have to get hurt.”
For those who believe they’ve been hurt in a recalled vehicle, auto recall lawyers suggest going over your case with an attorney before filing a claim with the car company. According to the compensation fund, if a person or a victim’s family accepts an award, they cannot file a lawsuit against the automaker.
The Detroit News reports fund administrators have, so far, made 126 offers to victims found eligible.