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Monday May 4th, 2015 12:05PM

GM launches compensation program for crash victims

By Ken Stanford Reporter
DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors said Thursday that it will launch a program to compensate crash victims or families affected by faulty ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths that prompted a recall of 2.6 million older small cars.<br /> <br /> The company said it expects the program will start accepting claims Aug. 1, but didn't specify how much money will be involved. Guidelines and other details will be developed in the coming weeks, GM said.<br /> <br /> The fund will be administered by compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg. GM announced in April the hiring of Feinberg, who handled the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund as well as funds for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and the BP oil spill.<br /> <br /> The announcement came the same day that GM released the findings of an investigation into the faulty switches. The investigation conducted by former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas - and paid for by General Motors - blamed a bumbling bureaucracy and engineers inability to appreciate the severity of the problem for the long delay in recalling the cars. (See separate story.)<br /> <br /> CEO Mary Barra said Thursday morning that the report finds a pattern of incompetency and neglect, but not a cover-up, at the heart of the Detroit automaker's long delay in dealing with faulty ignition switches.<br /> <br /> Barra said the company would "do the right things for those who were harmed" and "everything in our power to make sure this never happens again."<br /> <br /> The internal investigation and Barra's remarks don't deter Lance Cooper, a Georgia-based personal injury attorney who represents victims suing GM.<br /> <br /> Cooper said in a statement that documents produced in one lawsuit show that GM opted not to fix the safety defects in cars "for cost reasons."<br /> <br /> "This is why it is critical that the civil cases move forward so that the American public may learn the whole truth, not just the truth GM chooses to disclose," he said.
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