Even though General Motors (GM) admitted responsibility for millions of faulty ignition switches in their vehicles, a court ruling granted them immunity from lawsuits stemming from injuries that occurred before their 2009 bankruptcy.
A judge upheld GMs immunity yet the courts decision has been challenged on appeal and a ruling is not anticipated until next year. GM has, so far, avoided lawsuits prior to the companys 2009 bankruptcy filing.
Victims who initiated pre-bankruptcy lawsuits are expressing concerns. They may not receive compensation for death, injuries or property damage if GM continues to have legal immunity.
As part of a larger legal strategy, GM issued payments to some claimants through a special trust fund. Nearly a third of the approved injury and fatality claims were for accidents that occurred before the 2009 bankruptcy.
The attorney in charge of the fund, Kenneth R. Feinberg, stated that 399 of 4,343 injury and fatality claims were compensated by GM, for a total of $595 million. The 399 figure included 124 fatalities, 18 catastrophic injuries and 257 serious injury lawsuits. More than 100 of these accidents occurred before the bankruptcy filing.
Feinberg said that compensation offers were accepted by a little over 90 percent of the family members or victims who submitted claims.
Feinberg also claimed there was evidence that victims were driving recklessly, under the influence of alcohol or drugs and/or not wearing seatbelts. GM did not challenge claim awards even though driver errors were alleged to be involved in some claims.
By personally offering compensation to victims, GM hopes to move away from the largest ignition safety scandal in their auto making history. However, this compensation may not be enough for some victims who faced extensive medical costs, lost wages or experienced severe pain and suffering.
The law offices of Greg Coleman Law have been pursuing legal action against GM on behalf of injury victims who suffered from their defective ignition switches. Contact our experienced Knoxville personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation.