GM ignition switch death toll reaches 19, could go higher

General Motors' 'switchgate' scandal has slipped out of the headlines recently, but it continues to unfold. Ken Feinberg, an attorney appointed to review claims for the automaker, has now linked 19 deaths to the flawed ignition switches -- up from the 13 that GM admitted for months -- and that number could creep higher.

Paul Sancya/AP/File
The General Motors logo is on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

When we look back on 2014, the automotive story of the year will almost certainly be the huge number of recalls -- particularly, those from General Motors, intended to fix faulty ignition switches.

Though the "Switchgate" scandal has slipped out of the headlines for now, it continues to unfold. The latest chapter involves compensation claims filed by vehicle owners and their loved ones.

As you might remember, GM began accepting those claims on August 1. The company set no cap on payouts, and it gave attorney Ken Feinberg complete authority to review claims, determine eligibility, and assign compensation sums. According to the Associated Press, Feinberg has now linked 19 deaths to the flawed ignition switches -- up from the 13 that GM admitted for months -- and that number could creep higher.

To date, Feinberg has received 125 wrongful death claims from GM owners and/or their families. He hasn't said whether the 19 fatalities linked to the ignition switches include the 13 already acknowledged by GM, nor has Feinberg indicated how many claims have been rejected, though it appears that some have been turned down for technical reasons of eligibility.

We do know, however, that GM owners have until December 31 to file their claims, so over the next three-and-a-half months, we would expect the number of applications to the compensation fund to climb. Unfortunately, it's likely that the number of associated deaths will, too.

Feinberg's spokesperson, Camille Biros, has also confirmed that 320 claims associated with injuries have been filed. Of that number, 12 have been approved to date. It's unclear which sorts of injuries those 12 applicants sustained, but Biros acknowledged that a sizable number of claims -- 58, to be precise -- involved serious injuries like amputations and permanent brain damage. 

In related news, the acting head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration heads to the U.S. Senate today to discuss ways that his agency and others can improve response time on recalls. We'll keep you posted as these stories progress.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to GM ignition switch death toll reaches 19, could go higher
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today