Source: New York Times by Hillary Stout
When General Motors decided last spring to set up a program to pay victims of accidents caused by a defective ignition switch in more than 2 million cars, its chief executive said the company was trying to live up to its civic duty. But the move was also an effort to keep victims and their families out of the courts and avoid long, expensive and image-damaging litigation.
It was a gamble, but with the deadline for filing claims passing this weekend it looks as if the effort is succeeding so far.
Kenneth R. Feinberg, the independent administrator of the program, has made 93 payment offers to date to people who were seriously injured and to families of those who died. So far, no one has turned him down.
We have no rejected offers to date, said Camille Biros, the deputy administrator of the program, in an interview on Monday.
That is likely to change, with thousands of more claims under review. Of the 93 people who have received offers, 49 have formally accepted; the remaining 44 are still in their 90-day window to consider whether to accept. Photo Kenneth R. Feinberg, the independent administrator of G.M.'s compensation program. Credit Drew Angerer for The New York Times
But all signs point to an overwhelming majority of people, particularly those with costly death claims — those G.M. would be most fearful of in the courts — opting for the sure, swift payment rather than the uncertainty of the legal process.
The program is achieving our goal of providing just and timely compensation to the families who lost loved ones and those who suffered serious physical injury,â€ said a G.M. spokesman, James R. Cain.
Robert Hilliard, a Texas lawyer who has filed hundreds of claims and has not had any of his clients with death claims reject an offer, said the fund was set up well for some victims. If you're dead, the fund's fair, he said.