June 30, 2014
CAS Statement on GM Ignition Switch Victims Fund
The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is disappointed that General Motors did not include in the Feinberg Program other recalled vehicles and defects that resulted in deaths and injuries, and are barred by statutes of limitations or the GM bankruptcy. The compensation and victims outreach programs appear fair given the right of the consumer to opt out of the program.
The 800 pound gorilla in the GM Ignition Switch Victims Fund is Mr. Feinberg’s statement:
“Claimants filing a claim with the Administrator will be required to prove that the
ignition switch defect in an ‘eligible vehicle,’ as defined in the Program, was the
‘proximate cause’ of the death or physical injury in the accident.”
The majority of the claims filed with Mr. Feinberg will be on older crashes that occurred before 2012 where the vehicles are no longer available. In crashes before 2010, police reports will likely not be available. 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. 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. To do otherwise will be to deny most claims filed by consumers who cannot afford lawyers or experts.
Clarence M. Ditlow
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