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General Motors Extends Deadline for Families of Individuals Killed or Seriously Injured in Vehicles with Defective Ignition Switches

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Families of people killed or seriously injured in a car crash involving a General Motors (GM) vehicle affected by a defective key ignition switch will be given an extra month to submit claims to Ken Feinberg, the auto maker’s compensation expert.

Families of individuals killed or serious injured in one of the affected vehicles have until January 31, 2015 to file their claims, Feinberg said Sunday night. The original claim period ran from August 1 through December 31, but was extended, Feinberg said, “out of an abundance of caution,” according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

“Because of our determination to provide comprehensive notice and give each claimant an opportunity to file a claim in a timely manner, we have decided to extend the filing deadline,” Feinberg said in a written statement viewed by WSJ. The decision was likely prompted by reports last week that the family of Jean Averill, who perished in a Saturn Ion crash in December 2003, was never notified by GM that the accident was linked to the defective switches. Feinberg said that a notice was sent to 4.5 million people who currently own or have owned GM vehicles.

Reuters reported that Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is frustrated with Feinberg’s handling of the compensation fund and says the fund should either be eliminated or substantially modified. “GM should either commit to waiving its bankruptcy shield in all pending legal actions, or permit all victims who qualify for the fund to postpone their acceptance of their compensation until the completion of the Department of Justice investigation into GM’s possible criminal actions,” he said.

At least one car-safety advocate has expressed concern that GM is not being proactive enough in locating cases of injury or death. Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, is urging Feinberg to expand his efforts by searching federal car-safety databases for accidents involving recalled GM vehicles in order to determine whether those crashes were caused by the faulty switches, according to Reuters.

About 2.6 million GM vehicles have been recalled over the faulty key ignition switches, which can shift from “run” to “accessory” if too much weight is placed on the key or the vehicle experiences a jarring event, causing the air bags and electric steering to fail. GM failed to take action, despite its engineers knowing about the problem for a decade. The company learned about the defect after an engineer reported the problem while examining a test drive vehicle, but other engineers reported the problem in 2005.

As of Friday, 2,105 claims had been received by the GM Ignition Compensation Claims Resolution Facility. The compensation fund has confirmed 33 legitimate death claims so far, Reuters reported. disclaimer: This article: General Motors Extends Deadline for Families of Individuals Killed or Seriously Injured in Vehicles with Defective Ignition Switches was posted on Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 at 3:46 pm at and is filed under Fraud Lawsuits.

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