Searching For GM Crash Victims 11 Years Later
Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
The Search Too Slow for Too Many
On November 10, 2014 the NY Times reported:
“WASHINGTON, Conn. — Jean P. Averill warranted only a footnote.
Her death in a car crash in 2003 appeared at the bottom of page 103 in the 315-page internal report on the failure of General Motors to disclose a deadly safety defect in millions of its small cars.
And even then Ms. Averill’s name was blackened out in the version of the report released to the public….
In May, The Times reported the identities of 12 of the 13 victims identified by G.M. through interviews, accident databases and communications from federal regulators. In those cases as well, the families said G.M. did not inform them that it had included their lost family member in its internal tally.
Ms. Averill’s relatives said it never crossed their minds to sue G.M. after the crash because nothing was known publicly then about the ignition-switch defect.
“We feel bad that we couldn’t have thought of doing something way back then,” Sam Averill said, “and it might have saved a lot of other lives.”” See
On November 12, 2014, Center for Auto Safety (CAS) advocate Clarence Ditlow urged GM’s Feinberg to do more, faster, and better to identify crash victims. See attached letters to Feinberg.
Bloomberg reported on Feinberg’s reaction to the Ditlow letter as follows:“Feinberg disagreed with Ditlow’s statement that claims are being handled too slowly, saying he has so far processed more than 800 requests for payment.
“We have processed every single claim that has been submitted to us with documentation,” Feinberg said. “All remaining claims –- in the hundreds -– have absolutely no documentation whatsoever.”…
“Our mandate is to do all we can to reach out to legitimate victims and help them to file claims,” Feinberg said in the e-mail. “We are not passively standing by and waiting for claims.” Seehttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-12/gm-claims-czar-may-seek-switch-related-cases-in-records.html
On November 12, 2014, Senators Markey, Blumenthal, and Nelson urged President Obama to act. See attached letter
GM Crash Victims?
How many are there?
Tens as Feinberg reports 32 crash deaths he deems eligible as of Nov. 7, 2014? See current GM Feinberg statistics attached
. Hundreds as CAS reports 303 crash deaths (airbag non deployment)? Thousands as NHTSA FARS contains 1,751 occupant deaths in recalled vehicles in GM? (Not all due to ignition GM defect.) Or many more? During the period 2000 to 2012, more than 130,000 people lost their lives due to crash injuries suffered as occupants of all GM vehicles — about 20 people per day. This does not include pedestrians and others involved in fatal crashes with GM vehicles. See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/assets/MonthlyReport-June-July-2014.pdfWho are the GM Crash Victims?
When asked, the GM Feinberg program responded:
“The only public information regarding eligible claimants is what appears on our website.
For obvious privacy and confidentiality issues – we cannot provide or make public any claimant’s personal information.”
When asked what if victims granted permission?The response was:
If the claimant wants to provide their own personal information to you or to the media or whomever – they may certainly do so.
We will not provide it.“
How Will Safety and Justice be served?
Time, Information, Money, Expertise, and Resources are needed.
Time: The GM Feinberg program set a deadline of December 31, 2014 for crash victims to submit claims to be evaluated for eligibility. Not much time left.
Information: Families of crash victims will have to find and document information on their crash and their injuries and consequences.
Money: Crash victims may not have much money to explore whether or not they can make a claim.
Expertise: Crash victims often do not have access to the expertise needed to advocate for themselves.
Resources: Crash victims do not have the organizational resources to find and join with others to build a political coalition for justice and safety.
Imagine if the NHTSA were not a captive agency. Imagine if President Obama wanted to direct NHTSA to create a Task Force for Auto Safety and Justice. Time, Information, Money, Expertise, and Resources:
Such a NHTSA Task Force would not be bound by an artificial deadline of December 2014. It could analyze the information on the 130,000 GM fatal crashes in their databases as well as GM’s databases. It could work on behalf of all GM crash victims with the Justice Department and State Attorney Generals nationwide. The limitations that crash victims face as individuals up against GM could be overcome by a NHTSA that was not captive. See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/assets/CFCV-MonthlyReport-March2014.pdf
President Obama can come out on the side of crash victims for both Safety and Justice.