Financial News

  • 1 July 2014, 15:24

GM Reveals Pay Out Plan Amid Fresh Recalls

General Motors has recalled 8.2 million more cars in North America just as the company's compensation attorney revealed that he is prepared to pay billions to victims of car crashes linked to faulty ignition switches.

Kenneth Feinberg said on Monday that GM has placed no limit on the total amount he can pay to injured people or relatives of those killed.

The Detroit-based company says 13 deaths have been linked to a defective switch installed in some of its small car models.

But trial lawyers and lawmakers say claims of wrongful death and injury could total in the hundreds.

Mr Feinberg has been tasked with determining how much each victim will get.

He said: "GM has basically said whatever it costs to pay any eligible claims under the protocol they will pay it. There is no ceiling."

His announcement came just hours ahead of GM issuing fresh recalls for a least 8.2 million vehicles over the faulty ignition switches, including 7.6 million in the US.

It brings the company's total recalls in North America to 29 million this year, exceeding the 22 million recalled by all carmakers in 2013.

US lawmakers accused GM of a potential criminal cover-up after it was revealed that the company knew of problems with the ignition switches for more than a decade before recalls were announced.

An internal review ordered by CEO Mary Barra, who took over the company in January, found a "pattern of incompetence and neglect" in the company's handling of the recalls.

Fifteen employees, including senior legal and engineering executives, were dismissed over the failure to disclose the defects.

GM's compensation plan is aimed at limiting its legal liabilities, control the damage to its image and eventually move beyond the crisis.

The company said in a statement that Mr Feinberg's plan shows it is taking responsibility for what happened to victims "by treating them with compassion, decency and fairness".

People filing claims will have to prove that the switches caused the crashes, and once their claim is settled, they forfeit their right to sue GM.

Claims must be submitted no later than December 31.

Mr Feinberg said he will not consider whether those injured in crashes contributed to the cause by drinking alcohol, speeding, not wearing seat belts or other behaviour.

He said: "We have no interest in evaluating any alleged contributory negligence on the part of the driver."

Laura Christian, the mother of an accident victim who attended the news conference, said she had evidence that 165 people have died in accidents caused by the ignition switch problem.

Mr Feinberg responded that he would "be glad to consider anything you have".

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