GM's Ignition Switch Death Toll Hits Grim Milestone

Compensation fund is making payouts to 100, and counting
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2015 7:28 AM CDT
GM's Ignition Switch Death Toll Hits Grim Milestone
This undated photo shows Brooke Melton, who was killed in a car crash while driving her Chevrolet Cobalt near Atlanta in March 2010.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of the Melton family)

(Newser) – Only last year, GM insisted it could find only 13 deaths linked to its faulty ignition-switch system. Yesterday, the independent attorney overseeing GM's compensation fund on the issue reported an unwanted milestone—100 deaths and counting, reports CNNMoney. "And as the number of victims mounts, the ignition-switch crisis is cementing its status as one of the deadliest automotive safety issues in American history," observes the New York Times. In his update, attorney Kenneth Feinberg provided a snapshot of the numbers involved: Of more than 4,300 claims submitted, 100 death claims and 184 injury claims have been approved, the latter including 12 "catastrophic" injuries such as paralysis or brain damage, reports CNNMoney.

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Another 37 death claims and 589 injury claims remain under review. GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles with the faulty switches and fired 15 employees accused of helping the company keep the problem quiet for about a decade. Automotive News provides a quick reminder of the gist of the problem: The ignition switch—used in Chevy Cobalts, Saturn Ions, and older small cars—"can slip out of the run position if jostled or weighed down by a heavy keychain, cutting power to the steering, brakes and airbags." (Read more General Motors stories.)

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