While General Motors has acknowledged 19 people have died in crashes tied to the ignition switch defect in the Chevrolet Cobalt and other cars, their victim compensation fund is now at 131 claims for deaths in the cars.
Those who say they were injured as a result of the defective switch, or their families, have been submitting claims to the fund GM set up to compensate them for injuries or deaths. And slowly but surely, the fund has been approving them, in a way acknowledging the true number of people hurt or killed in those crashes.
The Detroit News reports that the victim compensation fund has seen a sharp increase in claims since last week, and as such, the "official" death toll as acknowledged by GM could rise quite a bit.
Officials say the fund now has 482 claims in total, including the 131 alleged deaths. They plan to disapprove some claims for various reasons, including cars not part of the program, but as the News notes they haven't yet said who has been deemed ineligible.
Does that mean 131 people were killed as a result of the ignition switch? Odds are, probably not, but it does mean the official death toll is likely to rise as claims are submitted through December, as GM said they might.
The fund will pay at least $1 million for each death claim, along with $300,000 payments to surviving spouses and children, and will add in lost economic value as well.