Fighting for Fairness After Deadly GM Vehicle Malfunctions
This year, General Motors has recalled roughly 29 million vehicles in the wake of deadly malfunctions, which led to switches in the ignition that shut off the engine and dangerously prevented airbags from inflating. According to the New York Times, the problem has led to 54 crashes and 13 fatalities (a number provided by GM). This large-scale fiasco has left families grieving the loss of their loved ones, and the comfort that the now deceased people provided. Now, experts are debating how best to compensate the victims.
As reported by USA Today, GM has hired attorney Kenneth Feinberg, an expert in dispute resolution, to structure the program through which GM will compensate victims of crashes caused by their faulty products (the ignitions in their vehicles). Feinberg stated that the automaker is prepared to shell out billions of dollars to victims of the car crashes, provided said victims can prove that the faulty ignition was the proximate cause of the crash. Our Palm Beach and Broward County personal injury attorneys know, and as Feinberg himself acknowledged, “money is a poor substitute for loss.” Still, being compensated for extreme loss can help victims endure the anguishing grieving process by allowing them to continue their lives without having to spend all of their time worrying about how they are going to afford things such as medical bills, funeral costs, replacing income, etc.
To give you a sense of how serious this issue is, consider the fact that Kenneth Feinberg is the same man who was hired to structure the compensation efforts following the horrific September 11th attacks and the costly BP oil spill.
Victims can receive anywhere from thousands of dollars to upwards of a million dollars, depending on their individual circumstance. The compensation fund set up by GM will accept applications from August 1st through December 31st, and he expects that the payment distributions will be completed by midway through next year. If victims accept payment through the compensation plan, they will waive their right to sue GM.
So, who exactly can file a claim? According to the compensation plan put forward by Feinberg, anyone who was involved in the crash (including the vehicle drivers, vehicle passengers, and/or pedestrians or other drivers affected by the cash caused by the malfunction) can file a claim with the compensation program. This will mean a far higher number of actual deaths being linked to the malfunction – in GM’s estimate of 13 deaths, the company only included deaths of individuals sitting in the front seat of the vehicle in which the airbags should have been deployed but were not.
Do you need a lawyer if your claim isn’t going to court? Our lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green would say “absolutely,” for many reasons, the most important being that in accepting compensation from this program you agree not to sue GM later. The fact that you waive your right to a lawsuit means that even if you find out, in the future, that your loss affected you far more than you previously thought, you cannot go back and seek more money from GM. That is why it’s critical that you seek the most money possible through the compensation program. Only an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to adequately lobby for you; we know how these programs work, we know how to prove the causes of the crash, and we know how to demonstrate exactly how a loss of a loved one will affect your family emotionally and financially.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident and you think a GM vehicle (including Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Cadillac, Buick, Saturn, etc.), was responsible, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys to schedule a free consultation. You can reach the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green by calling 561-266-9191 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to assisting you.