DETROIT — The death toll tied to faulty ignition switches in General Motors small cars has risen to 19, according to a compensation expert hired by the company. The number is likely to go higher.
Kenneth Feinberg said Monday that he has determined that 19 wrongful death claims are eligible for payments from GM. General Motors’ estimate of deaths has stood at 13 for months, although the automaker acknowledged the possibility of a higher count.
Feinberg received 125 death claims due to the faulty switches in older-model small cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt. The rest remain under review or require further documentation, he said in a report issued Monday.
“The public report is simply reporting on those eligible to date,” Feinberg spokeswoman Camille Biros said in an email. “There will certainly be others.”
GM has admitted knowing about the ignition switch problem for more than a decade. Yet it didn’t begin recalling the switches in 2.6 million small cars until earlier this year. The automaker hired Feinberg to compensate victims of crashes caused by the switches, and Feinberg has said GM has not limited the total amount he can pay.
Some lawmakers have estimated the death toll is close to 100.