September 24, 2014 / 9:54 PM / 4 years ago

GM compensation fund makes first offers to victims, gets more claims

The U.S. flag flies at the Burt GM auto dealer in Denver June 1, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

DETROIT (Reuters) - The fund to compensate for deaths or injuries linked to General Motors Co (GM.N) vehicles with faulty ignition switches this week made its first cash offers to about 15 people, the office of the lawyer overseeing the program said on Wednesday.

The fund will pay at least $1 million for each death claim or more if they had dependants. GM has set aside $400 million to cover the compensation costs.

The total number of claims filed by Wednesday was up to 850 from the 675 claims through last Friday, including 150 death claims, said an official with the office of lawyer Kenneth Feinberg. The fund has approved 21 death claims so far.

Camille Biros, deputy administrator of the fund, said that the cash offers were made verbally in the last two days, and included cases of death as well as some people who were injured.

The program will continue to receive applications until the end of this year on behalf of individuals injured or killed in accidents they say were caused by the switch, which led to the recall of 2.6 million vehicles earlier this year. A problem with the switch can cause it to slip out of position, stalling the vehicle and disabling air bags.

Feinberg, in an earlier interview with Reuters, said he could not be certain how many claims will end up being filed, nor how many he and his staff will determine are eligible for payments.

He said that some claims arrive to his office without enough documentation, which causes a delay in the determination of their eligibility.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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