DETROIT - General Motors Co. has a plan, led by Kenneth Feinberg, the nation's most well-known compensation expert, to pay people harmed in crashes caused by faulty ignition switches in older-model small cars.
Who is eligible: Drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and people in other cars involved in crashes with the GM vehicles who suffered serious physical injuries or relatives of people killed in crashes. The claim process is voluntary.
Affected models: The claims must involve the specific make and model year. About 2.6million small cars worldwide, including the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5; 2003-2007Saturn Ion; and 2006-2007Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, and any newer models from 2008-2011 that got the switches as replacement parts. In a crash, the airbag must have deployed.
Driver negligence: Any contributory negligence, intoxication, speeding, texting, is irrelevant under the program.
Materials for claims (When available): The car itself, black box information, police reports, photographs of the accident, insurance company claims, warrant and maintenance records, depositions and any other legal documentation used in lawsuit involving GM.
Deadline: People can begin applying for compensation Aug. 1. The deadline for filing a claim is Dec. 31. Feinberg expects most claims to be processed in 90 to 180 days.
Compensation limits: None for deaths or extreme injuries such as permanent brain damage, loss of limbs, paralysis and serious burns. Less serious injuries are limited by formulas similar to what was used to compensate those injured in the Boston Marathon bombings. People can get quick settlements based on formulas for death and extreme injuries, or they can try to prove to Feinberg that they should get more money by proving extraordinary circumstances. GM has placed no limit on the total he can spend. Lawyers say it will be in the billions.
Burden of proof: Those filing claims must show that their crashes were caused by faulty GM small-car ignition switches. The switches can unexpectedly slip from "run" to "accessory," shutting off the engines and causing loss of power steering and brakes. The air bags also are disabled. Those injured in frontal crashes in which airbags did not deploy are likely to get compensation. Frontal crashes without air bag deployment are not eligible because it's unlikely the switch caused the crash if the air bags worked.
Right to sue: Those who settle with Feinberg give up their right to sue.
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