More than 1,200 claims submitted to the compensation program are still under review, meaning the casualties could climb higher as workers evaluate the merits of these claims. Of the death claims processed so far, only 22.4 percent have been deemed eligible for compensation.
Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer in charge of the victim's compensation fund, also approved seven new injury claims this week, bringing the total confirmed injured by GM's ignition switches to 148. Eleven of those are for serious physical injuries that may include double amputation, permanent brain damage or pervasive burns, according to the fund's statistics.
After years of inaction related to the problem, GM recalled roughly 2.4 million vehicles last year which potentially contained defective ignition switches that easily slipped from the "run" to "accessory" position. Such a sequence turned off critical electrical functions that, among other things, provided power to airbag systems.
Throughout Congressional hearings devoted to GM's handling of the crisis, CEO Mary Barra stood by the company's position the ignition-switch defect had contributed to 13 deaths. When Reuters reported the number of deaths was at least 74 last June, GM stuck to its original figure.