GM’s Compensation Program Received 63 Death Claims in One Week; Recalls Amass

On Thursday, Aug. 7, General Motors recalled approximately 189,000 SUVs to fix power window switches that could catch fire.

Models affected include the Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Isuzu Ascender and Saab 970X.

The following day, the company added five new recalls to their yearly total. This time, Saturn VUE crossover SUVs were being recalled because the lock cylinder in the ignition may allow the driver to pull the key out when the ignition is still in the on position.

Other vehicles recalled on Friday include the Cadillac ATS, Buick Encore, Chevrolet Impala, Pontiac G3, Chevrolet Aveo and Chevrolet Sparks. Of all the recalls, the only accidents reported involved the Saturn VUE.

These recalls were announced around the same time GM had opened their compensation plan up to the public. Claims could be made beginning Aug.1, and just one week into the process, the company had received 120 claims.

Additionally, more than half of the claims filed were from families who believe their loved ones were killed in accidents involving cars that had been recalled earlier this year. The initial number raises questions about whether GM underestimated the number of deaths linked to the defect; they estimated only 33 deaths had been caused by the defective switch.

Other claims filed were from people who suffered catastrophic injuries and those who were hospitalized.

The compensation program from GM is available through the end of the year. However, claimants must show via a police report of other reports that the air bag did not deploy in the crash. Additionally, the program does not cover property damage or pain and suffering.

If a victim’s application is deemed eligible, compensation will be provided between 90 and 180 days. The claimants who filed this week will likely not receive word about their eligibility until Labor Day.

For more information on the GM recall, visit our investigative timeline.