Months after Volkswagen admitted to equipping certain diesel vehicles with software designed to cheat emissions tests, the company has hired Kenneth R. Feinberg to address claims related to the scandal and create a compensation plan for victims. Feinberg is a leading specialist in compensation funds, his most notable work including payouts to victims of 9/11, the BP oil spill, and most recently, those who were affected by the faulty ignition switches in General Motors’ vehicles.
Volkswagen came under fire after the company admitted to installing illegal devices in certain diesel vehicles in order to get lower results on emissions tests, leading many VW owners to take legal action against the automaker, claiming that their vehicles were devalued because of the scandal.
While details of the compensation program have yet to be finalized, VW hopes this move will limit the number of lawsuits filed against them. Feinberg and his team’s first step in developing this program will be to outline parameters for eligibility and what proof vehicle owners will be required to provide. Feinberg plans to receive input from the company as well as vehicle owners to fully develop the plan, including the amount of compensation that affected VW owners could get.
Feinberg also explained that the compensation program will not interfere with any state and federal investigations of the company’s actions regarding the scandal. He expects that the program will take about 60 to 90 days to develop.
The United States government announced on Tuesday, December 1 that it plans to streamline its safety grading system for new vehicles to include whether the car has the technology to avoid crashes, and whether it has features that can aid in better protecting occupants when such situations arise.
The government will also consider whether the automobile in review possesses sensors that have a capability of detecting frontal collision and immediately applying the brakes in response, or the ability to inform drivers of the presence of vehicles in their blind spots or when drivers are in danger of crossing into another lane.
Crash tests will also be upgraded to include accidents in which vehicles collide at an angle; crash-test dummies that will be used will be designed to better represent the human body.
The rating system grades new vehicles by posting stickers ranging from one sticker as the lowest grade to five stickers as the highest grade on their windows to help buyers make an informed choice as to the safety of these newly-released vehicles.
If you have been injured in an accident in Nashville, call the attorneys of Pohl & Berk, LLP today at 615-277-2765.
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.