November 3, 2014 / 4:33 PM / in 3 years

GM ignition-switch death, injury claims up 12 percent

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A program to compensate victims of accidents caused by a faulty ignition switch in General Motors GM.N vehicles has received 1,772 claims for injuries and deaths, a 12 percent increase from the previous week, according to a report Monday.

The General Motors logo is seen outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan in this file photograph taken August 25, 2009. REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky/Files

The increase in claims received by the program as of Friday was driven in part by an additional four claims for deaths and 174 new claims for less-serious injuries that required hospitalization but did not cause severe permanent damage. Since August 1, when the program began, there have been a total of 196 claims for deaths, 116 for catastrophic injuries and 1,460 for other injuries, according to the report from the office of attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who was tapped by GM to oversee the program.

GM has faced criticism for waiting 11 years to begin recalling millions of cars with ignition-switch problems that have been linked to fatal crashes. The switch can slip out of position and cut power to air bags and brakes. The problem prompted the recall of 2.6 million vehicles earlier this year.

Once a claim is submitted, Feinberg and his office review it to determine whether it is eligible for compensation. In a previous report, Feinberg’s office said 61 offers had been made, including 30 to the survivors of individuals killed in crashes and 31 for those injured. No new claims were approved in the past week, according to this week’s report.

So far, 25 of the offers have been accepted, and none have been rejected as of Friday, according to a spokeswoman for the program.

GM has given Feinberg - a Washington attorney who has overseen compensation for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, among others - free rein to determine eligibility criteria and approve or reject claims. The amount of compensation has not been capped, and GM has set aside at least $400 million to cover the costs.

The program will continue to accept claims until December 31.

Reporting by Jessica Dye; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Andrew Hay

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