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General Motors has offered to pay compensation for 19 deaths caused by faulty ignition switches in the company's vehicles.
The dollar amounts of the automaker's offers weren't announced. But the 19 deaths marked an increase from the 13 deaths GM had previously said were caused by the faulty ignition switches, Reuters reports. The ignition switch flaw, which led the company to recall millions of vehicles earlier this year, can cause a vehicle's ignition to slip out of the run position, stalling the vehicles and disabling features such as airbags.
What led to the new number of ignition switch-related deaths?
Victims' Fund to Handle Injury, Death Claims
Following hundreds of reports of crashes caused by the faulty ignition switches, GM announced earlier this year that it was setting up a victims' compensation fund to handle claims. The fund would accept claims from anyone who was a "driver, passenger, pedestrian or an occupant of another vehicle involved in an accident resulting in physical injury or death" or the beneficiaries of someone killed in such an accident.
The fund began accepting claims on August 1. Those who file a claim and accept compensation agree not to sue the company. But those who decline to take part in the compensation fund are free to file a defective motor vehicle lawsuit against the company.
'Taking More Evidence Into Account'
The new, higher number of fatalities linked to the defective ignition switches is the result of the differing standards used by the victims fund in determining fault. GM spokesman Dave Roman told The Detroit News that the company accepts the determination of victims' fund attorney Kenneth Feinberg, although GM still only officially acknowledges the 13 deaths it has previously said were linked to the defective switches.
So far, 125 death claims and 320 injury claims have reportedly been submitted to the fund. It's possible the ignition switch-related death toll will rise again as those claims are investigated.