Justice and Safety for Crash Victims

Justice and Safety for Crash Victims

November, 2014

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Justice for Crash Victims

It is a rare day when crash victims receive justice.  Justice for crash victims is too often, too little, too late, for too many people.
The NY Times has just reported on a rare Justice “Success Story” for crash victims:

“Candice Anderson received the bittersweet news Monday in a Texas courtroom, fighting back tears, and her arm around the mother of the boyfriend she had felt responsible for killing in a car crash 10 years ago.

The judge cleared Ms. Anderson in the death of the boyfriend, Gene Mikale Erickson, even though she had pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the case years ago.

Ms. Anderson, 21 at the time of the crash, was driving her car when she inexplicably lost control and crashed into a tree. Mr. Erickson, her passenger, died at the scene, and Ms. Anderson has been racked with guilt ever since.

In getting her record cleared, Ms. Anderson benefited from an extraordinary — and long delayed — admission by General Motors, which on Monday for the first time publicly linked Mr. Erickson’s death to an ignition switch defect in millions of its small cars….”  

“Ms. Anderson’s Saturn Ion was among the cars equipped by G.M. with the defective switch, which can cause a loss of power, disabling power brakes, power steering and airbags. At least 35 deaths have been linked to the defect, which went unreported by G.M. for more than a decade.

In May 2007, five months before Ms. Anderson entered her guilty plea, G.M. had conducted an internal review of the crash and quietly ruled its car was to blame, but never let Ms. Anderson or local law enforcement officials know.

After the crash on Nov. 15, 2004, Ms. Anderson’s parents liquidated their 401(k) to retain a lawyer to defend her. While a deal with prosecutors spared her jail time, she was on probation for five years and paid more than $10,000 in fines and restitution.”  See 


This article illustrates the importance of media attention to the plight of crash victims. Thanks to trial lawyers, engineers, consumer advocates, congressional pressure, government agencies and officials, and citizens doing their parts, some justice can be achieved for some crash victims.
Safety for Crash Victims
But as we are all crash victims in so many ways, we need to achieve both justice and safety to prevent injuries to all future crash victims.  Both “success” stories and “suffering” stories of crash victims help move us as a society to achieve greater safety.  With about 100 crash deaths per day, plus 400 serious crash injuries per day, and costs of about $2 Billion per day occurring in the U.S.A. today — we have a great need for crash victim justice and safety.  See
NHTSA Report on Economic and Societal Costs at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812013.pdf


DOT Secretary “Heck of a job” Anthony Foxx – “Incredible Track Record”

DOT Secretary “Heck of a job” Anthony Foxx – “Incredible Track Record”

November, 2014

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

The Detroit News reports: 

“Last week, a senior administration official told reporters NHTSA’s handling of the recall was “suboptimal.”

Foxx told The Detroit News on Friday that NHTSA’s handling of the recall “wasn’t flawless in the sense” that there were mistakes in press releases — some wrong cars and the wrong number of vehicles were listed in releases on successive days last week. And the website at which car owners could check to see if the vehicles were recalled wasn’t working for much of the week.

“That’s what was suboptimal,” Foxx said. He praised NHTSA’s “incredible track record” over the last decade.”  See 


So what was this praiseworthy “incredible track record” of NHTSA over the past decade of Bush/Obama?

Way back in August 2014, (about 9,000 crash deaths ago) NHTSA reported that over the past decade nearly 350,000 Americans died of crash injuries.  See attached NHTSA report also available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812055.pdf

In fairness to Secretary Foxx, he may not have added the annual figures, or added an estimate for 2014, or recognized the effects of the Great Recession 2006 – 2010 in the decline in crash deaths.  But then, he has little knowledge of auto safety.  Neither does the current deservedly much criticized NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman know much about auto safety.   See Secretary Foxx’s bio at
Consider that the 350,000 crash deaths is just part of the tragic statistical picture.  One has to add about 1.4 million serious crash injuries.  And using the NHTSA figures on 2010 annual societal costs of $871 Billion, one can estimate this “incredible track record” at nearly $8 Trillion.  See NHTSA Report at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812013.pdf
The 350,000 crash deaths over the past decade amounts to more than 3 times the 101,442 deaths in the Korean, Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars combined.  
Incredible track record, indeed!  Just what Americans voted for, but corporations delivered.
The revolving door will turn again and these “public” officials will go for their rewards for this “incredible track record”.


GM Crash Victims Payout Plan as of Halloween 2014

GM Crash Victims Payout Plan as of Halloween 2014

November, 2014

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Only 2 months left for GM crash victims to make claims to GM Ignition Compensation Program.   Their “deadline” (their word, not mine) is December 31, 2014.  See http://www.gmignitioncompensation.com/index

As of Halloween, GM Administrator Feinberg’s website shows Latest Overall Program Statistics as of October 24, 2014 to be at http://www.gmignitioncompensation.com/docs/program_Statistics.pdf

Claims received “to date” *  192 for deaths, but so far only 30 “determined eligible”

*  102 for “Category One” injuries such as Quadriplegia, but so far only 4 “determined eligible” 
*  1286 for “Category Two” injuries, but so far only 27 “determined eligible”
Note:  “Remaining claims are either under review, deficient awaiting further documentation or deemed ineligible.”  No statistical breakout of these categories is  currently publicly available.  See http://www.gmignitioncompensation.com/docs/program_Statistics.pdf


While GM & NHTSA Fiddle Crash Victims Burn

While GM & NHTSA Fiddle Crash Victims Burn

November, 2014

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Too Little Too Late For Too Many Crash Victims

The NY Times reports:

“Nearly nine months after General Motors began recalling millions of its cars for a dangerously defective ignition switch, almost half of the vehicles still have not been fixed….

One of the unrepaired vehicles was a red 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt that crashed here the night of Oct. 9, killing its 25-year-old driver, Brittany Alfarone. Her mother, Dierdre Betancourt, said she had tried to fix the car twice, but two dealers turned her away….

Joseph Brini was driving behind Ms. Alfarone the night of the accident. He said it seemed as if the driver was wrestling with the car. “My feeling is she was trying to get some control,” he said. “The poor girl had no control of the car.”

The vehicle slammed into a guardrail and erupted in flames. The county medical examiner listed the cause of death as thermal burns, asphyxiation because of carbon monoxide and laceration of the liver, a condition that some auto engineering experts say suggests, based on Ms. Alfarone’s slight build, the airbag did not deploy.”  See

Automotive News reports: “A program to compensate victims of accidents caused by a faulty ignition switch in General Motors vehicles has received 1,772 claims for injuries and deaths, a 12 percent increase from the previous week, according to a report updated today. ”  Seehttp://www.autonews.com/article/20141103/OEM11/141109972/gm-ignition-switch-claims-rise-12-percent
How many more tragedies will Americans experience before this problem is responsibly fixed?
For past, present, and future crash victims will GM still shut the door on claims on December 31, 2014?
For additional Automotive News reference materials on the GM Recall see  http://www.autonews.com/theme/The%20GM%20recall
Remember that there are about 1,000,000 of these Sudden Loss of Power and Control (SLOPAC) defective vehicles still on the roads.   They continue to endanger not just their occupants but all Americans that they may crash into.
When will President Obama call a national conference on this public health problem at the White House?   Before or after more tragedies?


GM Feinberg “Compensation” Plan – How Long Do Crash Victims Have To Just Apply?

GM Feinberg “Compensation” Plan – How Long Do Crash Victims Have To Just Apply?

November, 2014

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Thanks to the “generosity” of the GM Feinberg “Compensation” current plan, crash victims have been “given” an extension of 1 month until the end of January 2015 to just apply to be deemed eligible.  (Is there a connection between that date and the control of the Senate?)

Senator Richard Blumenthal has rightly stated:“This incident illustrates the need to reconsider and substantially modify – if not eliminate – these arbitrary compensation fund deadlines. I commend and appreciate the spirit that is reflected in extending the deadline, but the practical effect is inadequate. Victims must have a meaningful choice between accepting compensation through the fund and pursuing their claims in court, and that choice can’t be made until the outcomes of the bankruptcy proceeding and the Department of Justice investigation are known. Right now, injured parties do not know enough about their legal rights or facts to make an intelligent or informed decisions. They will not know the full extent of their rights until the bankruptcy court decides whether to lift the liability shield that GM now unjustifiably hides behind.

“GM should either commit to waiving its bankruptcy shield in all pending legal actions, or permit all victims who qualify for the fund to postpone their acceptance of their compensation until the completion of the Department of Justice investigation into GM’s possible criminal actions.

“GM’s failure to notice the Averill family remains a shocking contradiction of whatever public trust the company was taking steps to rebuild. General Motors still must immediately provide proof that they have notified each of the families they know to have been harmed by their defect and direct Mr. Feinberg to make future extensions to the fund deadline if evidence is presented that there are other families, like the Averills, from whom information is being withheld.””  See

GM Feinberg Current Victim “Compensation” Plan
The NY Times provides important insight into the current plan.“The families of people killed or injured in crashes involving General Motors cars that had a deadly ignition switch defect will have an extra month to submit claims for payment under G.M.’s victim compensation program.

Kenneth R. Feinberg, who administers the compensation fund, has decided to extend the deadline to Jan. 31 to give more time to families who might not be aware of the program.

The extension comes a week after The New York Times revealed the identity of Jean P. Averill, who was killed in a 2003 crash of a Saturn Ion at the age of 81. Hers was the earliest fatality G.M. connected with the ignition defect. Until informed by The Times, the family had not known of the company’s compensation program or that it was eligible to receive a minimum of $1 million from the fund. At that time, the family said it had never been contacted by the automaker.”  See


And for a peek into how the GM Feinberg program currently operates:

“WASHINGTON — If this Monday is like almost every other one this fall, the death toll from General Motors’ defective ignition switch will rise.” See 


Crash victims will continue to be identified.  As will the efforts by GM to limit their payouts to victims – and the need to drastically improve safety for their customers and the public.

Too slowly, but the public is at least now learning what has been happening and who is responsible for all this preventable suffering.



GM Feinberg Extends Deadline for Countless GM Crash Victims — by 1 Month

GM Feinberg Extends Deadline for Countless GM Crash Victims — by 1 Month

November, 2014

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

After calls for extension of GM Feinberg “Compensation” Program by Sen. Blumenthal and others, a one month extension has been granted to crash victims.

See http://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/blumenthal-calls-on-general-motors-to-contact-known-victims-of-faulty-ignition-switch-extend-compensation-fund-deadline-for-families-that-just-learned-of-eligibility

And https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/blog-11yearslater.php

And Press Release:GM Ignition Compensation Claims Resolution Facility Announces

an Extension of the Claims Filing Deadline

Kenneth R. Feinberg, the Administrator of the GM Ignition Compensation Claims Resolution Facility, announced today a one month extension of the claim filing deadline for submission of claims to the Facility.  The current deadline of December 31, 2014 has been extended to January 31, 2015.  Claimants, therefore, have an additional month to file their claims with the Facility. 

            In announcing this one month extension, Mr. Feinberg emphasized that the many efforts to notify all eligible claimants have been largely successful.  Notice has already been sent to almost four and one half million individuals targeting all current and prior owners of the eligible vehicles.   An additional one month extension is being implemented “out of an abundance of caution,” he stated and because supplemental notice is being mailed this week by GM to approximately 850,000 newly registered owners and to those individuals for whom a change in registration, change of address or corrected address has been received.  

             “I believe that the many efforts to reach all possible GM automobile owners, former owners and others who might have been adversely impacted by a defective ignition switch have been both comprehensive and effective.  There will always be some individuals who do not receive formal notice and are generally unaware of available compensation.  But such individuals appear to be very few in number,” said Mr. Feinberg.

            Mr. Feinberg added: “Because of our determination to provide comprehensive notice and give each claimant an opportunity to file a claim in a timely manner, we have decided to extend the filing deadline an additional 30 days until January 31, 2015.”

            Information about the Ignition Switch Compensation Claims Resolution Facility, including how to prepare and file a claim with appropriate documentation, can be found at http://www.gmignitioncompensation.com or toll free at 1-855-382-6463



For media inquiries, please contact: Amy Weiss, Amy@WeissPublicAffairs.com


Amy Weiss

Chief Executive Officer

WEISS Public Affairs

5309 Cushing Place, N.W.

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