General Motors is reportedly ready to make settlements with the people injured or the families of those killed in the car crashes that were caused by the company's defective ignition switches.
The families of the deceased will be given an offer of no less than $1 million each as compensation, as long as it can be proven that GM's ignition switches were indeed the cause of the fatal car crash.
Kenneth Feinberg, who was hired by the company to be the GM Ignition Compensation Fund director, said that the people injured or the families of the deceased can start filing for claims by Aug. 1, with a deadline of until Dec. 31.
Feinberg added that he will be reaching out to the owners of about 2.6 million cars that were involved in the faulty ignition switch recall earlier this year that they could be able to claim settlements.
The compensation fund will have no cap, as per Feinberg. He also said that actuarial tables and average medical costs will be used to determine the settlement amount to be given for each filing.
However, some of the families are expressing concerns that they may not be able to claim the settlements due to insufficient documentation. Evidence including police reports, insurance information, vehicle data, hospital records, and vehicle involved if it is still present may be used, but safety advocates have criticized the plan.
"It will be difficult, if not impossible, for a consumer to prove that ignition-switch failure caused a crash if all they have is their statement that the ignition switch cut off," said Center for Auto Safety executive director Clarence Ditlow. "At the very least, in processing claims Mr. Feinberg must apply a presumption that if there is record of stalling on a vehicle, the claim is valid."
In response, it was acknowledged that it could prove a "challenge" to substantiate the claims, but his track record in administering settlements could silence critics. He administered the fund for the 9/11 attacks, wherein 97 percent of those eligible accepted the offer, and the fund for the BP oil spill, wherein 92 percent of those eligible accepted the offer.
Feinberg said that he intends to pay within 90 days to 180 days from the date of an accepted filing.
"We are pleased that Mr. Feinberg has completed the next step with our ignition-switch compensation program to help victims and their families," said Mary Barra, GM CEO in a statement. "We are taking responsibility for what has happened by treating them with compassion, decency and fairness."