GM Victim Program Sees ‘Cautious Optimism,’ Feinberg Says

Ken Feinberg, the lawyer managing General Motors Co.’s program to compensate victims of ignition flaws that led to at least 13 deaths, said the plan details are winning support from stakeholders.

There’s “a cautious optimism,” Feinberg said today on Bloomberg Television. “Until that money begins to flow to eligible claimants --injured, killed -- I think everybody is sort of waiting to see,” he said.

Feinberg said he’s received support from claimants, family members and elected officials since announcing details of the plan late last month.

The program will take claims from Aug. 1 through Dec. 31, giving customers time to prepare their documentation. GM will pay anyone who proves they were injured in a crash tied to the faulty switches in one of 2.59 million recalled cars, even if they were drunk or texting on their phone at the time of the accident, he reiterated today.

Feinberg has been asked to appear with GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra before a Senate subcommitee in Washington next week. Lawmakers are investigating why it took the Detroit-based automaker more than a decade to recall the vehicles with faulty switches.

Since GM started calling back those cars in February, the company has stepped up the pace of recalls, flagging almost 29 million vehicles in North America for fixes.

Feinberg today also reiterated GM will pay whatever it takes to compensate victims.

“We’re going to be generous and fair to the victims,” Feinberg said. “No matter what. That’s the mandate from General Motors.” He noted that GM had told him, “‘We want to do the right thing.’ Mary Barra told me that herself.”

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