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G.M. settled some claims for pre-bankruptcy accidents

Posted on Thursday, December 10th, 2015   

Though General Motors admitted that it failed to disclose information about defective ignition switches for a decade, the automaker’s 2009 bankruptcy actually protects G.M. from lawsuits filed for accidents that happened prior to that date. As reported in The New York Times, this legal protection allowed G.M. to compensate these accident victims on its own accord, which it has done through a fund set up by the automaker and operated by attorney Kenneth R. Feinberg.

Of the 4,343 death and injury claims that have been filed against G.M., Feinberg has reported that 399 claims have been found to be eligible for compensation. Included in that figure are 128 approved claims for accidents that occurred prior to the company’s 2009 bankruptcy. In all, it is believe that this fund has authorized around $595 million for the 399 eligible claims, though G.M.’s own second-quarter earnings report suggests that the total may be closer to $625 million.

According to a spokesman from G.M., the company elected to take what it described as a “nonadversarial” approach with the compensation fund, and the reports filed by Feinberg show that a number of claims were settled despite substantial evidence indicating that some drivers shared some of the blame for their accidents. To date, these reports show that over 90 percent of offers for compensation were eventually accepted by victims or their families.

For those people who file claims for accidents that occurred prior to G.M.’s bankruptcy, this is may be the best chance they have for recovering compensation for their accidents. Despite that, there are 180 pre-bankruptcy lawsuits that will be heard over a series of trials in New York next year.

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