Victims’ Claims Mount For GM Compensation Program

General Motors (GM) is in recall hell. In just its first eight days, the General Motors compensation program was deluged with more than 120 victim claims apparently linked to GM cars that were recalled to fix an ignition-switch defect; more than half of which were filed on behalf of people who died in crashes. The faulty switch can suddenly slip out of the run position, stall the car and disable the air bags.

According to estimates, GM will pay $400 million to $600 million to victims through the program, but there is no limit on the number of claims that will be paid or the total amount that GM will pay. Speaking of claims, if your car is part of the recall, make sure you get it fixed — if you fail to correct the defect and were aware of the recall, your car insurance may not cover you in case of an accident.

The recall covers Chevrolet Cobalts, HHRs, Pontiac G5s and Solstices, Saturn Ion and Sky models, mostly sold between 2003 to 2007 model years.

GM’s payment program will offer payouts for any accident in which the vehicles’ air bags did not activate. The reimbursements could range from $20,000 to several million dollars to any driver, passenger, pedestrian or occupant of another vehicle, who can prove they were hurt in a crash involving GM cars recalled this year for the faulty ignition switch. Any claims involving death would automatically be awarded $1 million for pain and suffering above any other payments.

As an important condition of proof, claimants must show through police reports, or other documentation, that a vehicle’s air bag wasn’t activated in the crash.

Once a victim’s application is judged to be eligible, the fund will issue a payment within 90 days for simple cases and 180 days for more complicated ones, after the documentation is completed.

The claims process will remain open until Dec. 31.

Meantime, GM’s troubles with safety recalls continued, with a group of sport-utility vehicles requiring fixes to power-window switches because they might catch on fire. GM advises owners to park the SUVs outside, and not in an enclosed structure until they are repaired.

The power-window recall involves about 189,000 vehicles in North America, mainly from the 2006 and 2007 model years. Models affected include the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Isuzu Ascender and Saab 9-7X.

Other GM recalls:
• 202,115 Saturn VUEs (ignition key can possibly be removed when the vehicle isn’t in the off position).
• 48,059 2013 Cadillac ATS four-door sedans and 2013 Buick Encores ( lap-belt issues)
• 14,940 2014-2015 Chevrolet Impala sedans (problems with the front-console storage compartment)
• 1,968 2009-2010 Chevrolet Aveo and 2009 Pontiac G3 vehicles (brake-fluid issue)
• 1,919 2014 Chevrolet Spark (potential bolt issues)

Don’t wait to get to take care of repairs if your car is on the list. Your family and your car insurance company will thank you.

Is your car on the recall list? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.