General Motors has hired compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg to help determine how much, and how little, victims affected by the faulty ignition switches will receive. The fund for victims will begin accepting applications August 1 and will close on December 31. Feinberg (who has run similar compensation funds for the victims of September 11 and the Boston Marathon bombings) hopes to finish distributing payments by the middle of the next year. His goal is to complete valid, simpler claims in 90 days and more complicated claims within 180 days.
The total fund does not have a limit, nor is there a limit on payments to individuals. Feinberg explained on Monday that "There's no aggregate cap. It's not as if General Motors is putting up X dollars and telling me, 'Spend it wisely because that's all there is.'" Feinberg also has the final say on all claims. "GM delegated to me, at my full and sole discretion, to decide which claims are eligible, and how much money they should get. There are no appeals (by GM or victims). Once I make the decision, that's it."
For the issue of airbags, there is an automatic disqualification. If the airbags inflated during the crash in question, "you're not eligible. But if the airbag didn't deploy, it could have been the switch," Feinberg explained. "If the airbag didn't deploy, or you don't know if the airbag deployed, file a claim."