There has been a flood of recent stories about claims against General Motors for accidents caused by the automakers’ defective ignition switch. Unfortunately, there have been many victims of wrongful deaths and catastrophic injuries resulting from these defects which apparently were not discovered, or properly investigated, by the automaker once they became aware of the potential dangerous condition.
Kenneth Feinberg, a nationally known and prominent compensation expert and attorney, was recently hired by General Motors in an attempt to limit their damages, and perhaps stem the tide of negative publicity, by distributing money to accident victims and their families.
This will not be an easy task; while GM has linked the defect to 54 accidents and 13 deaths, many lawmakers and attorneys believe that the actual number of victims is much higher. It’s estimated that the cost of these pay-outs could amount to billions of dollars, but the automaker appears to be able to withstand this financial blow due to their brisk sales of new vehicles.
Kenneth Feinberg has been involved in numerous cases where there have been multiple catastrophic injuries and claims in similar settings. The victims’ fund resulting from the BP oil spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico was handled by Feinberg, which resulted in over a half million claims being filed by those directly and indirectly harmed by the spill.
In addition, he oversaw the compensation fund which was set up by the government after the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington. The 9/11 fund handed out more than $7 billion to victims of the attacks and their families.
Louis Grandelli, P.C. handled a case from the World Trade Center tragedy involving a business executive with a wife and three children who was killed during the attacks and we were able to obtain an arbitration award of $6.9 Million, which was one of the highest on record.
The benefit to the clients in participating in such a fund, in lieu of litigating the case, is that liability is often deemed admitted. However, the fund evaluates the monetary damages to the injured victims or the families of those who were killed, and the victims may waive their right to a trial by a jury.
It’s a mystery to many that General Motors, which is embroiled in a safety crisis which has resulted in the recall of about 29 Million vehicles worldwide this year alone, continues to have such strong sales. In fact, despite the flood of claims, GM recently announced that it’s sales rose 1% in June of 2014, as compared to the same month last year, which is keeping in line with an overall strong performance for the automotive industry.
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