Nicolet Law Office, S.C.

GM creates victim compensation fund

Several months ago we wrote about a wrongful death lawsuit that the families of two Wisconsin teens who were killed in a car accident filed against several defendants. In it, they allege that crash and deaths were the result of problems with the car in which they were travelling. The car accident occurred after the driver lost control of the vehicle when it stalled. The loss of control cased the car to run into trees after leaving the road.

Though the force of the impact should have triggered the Chevrolet Cobalt's airbags to deploy, they did not. Two of the three girls in the vehicle died following the crash while the third suffered brain damage. None of the girls were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident.

The vehicle in which the girls were riding was recalled years after the 2006 crash by General Motors, in one of the carmakers many vehicle recalls.

Other people throughout the country have alleged similar negligence claims against the carmaker and GM recently announced the creation of a compensation fund for victims injured as a result of vehicle defects. There are several things that could make this fund appealing to those who previously filed lawsuits against the carmaker. The first is that all occupants of the vehicles are eligible and compensation for medical expenses is included. In addition, the following acts of contributing negligence will not be taken into consideration:

  • Texting
  • Failing to wear seat belts
  • Speeding
  • Drinking

A potential deterrent to going with the compensation fund is that the income level and age of the victim will be considered by the carmaker in determining the amount each family is entitled to. Accordingly, the families of the teens killed in the Wisconsin crash would receive less than an adult who was married with children and working.

Whether the families will drop their wrongful death lawsuits and go with the compensation fund remains to be seen. In making a decision they will likely consult with their lawyers.

Source: The New York Times, "Retirement Plans Thrown Into Disarray by a Divorce," Constance Gustke, June 27, 2014

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