Minnesota family waits while GM determines compensation for fatal accident


Eight years ago, Natasha Weigel died in a car crash. The 18-year-old was a passenger in a Chevy Cobalt when the driver lost control; the car left the road and struck a telephone junction box and two trees in St. Croix County, Wisconsin.

A 15-year-old passenger also died, and the teenage driver suffered brain damage.

Authorities determined the ignition switch malfunctioned and suddenly turned from the “run” to “accessory” position, causing the steering, braking and airbag systems to lose power.

Eight years later, Weigel's family is still just waiting, as ABC 6 reports; waiting to find out if the negligence claim they filed against General Motors is accepted, and if they can start to move on.

"It just keeps dragging out," Doug Weigel of Albert Lea told the station. “It makes it worse the longer you sit not knowing."

The Weigels are one of the hundreds of families who filed claims relating to injuries or deaths stemming from the faulty ignition switches in GM vehicles. The company is accused of negligence for knowing about the ignition switch problem but not addressing it for a decade.

The attorney tasked with overseeing the compensation fund, Ken Feinberg, said Monday 19 deaths can be linked to the ignition issue – six more than the 13 deaths the automaker previously attributed to the problem, NBC News reports.

The faulty ignition switch was installed on 2.6 million GM cars, NBC News says. The company has received 445 claims related to the product, and 125 of those resulted in death. NBC News says a total of 31 claims (including the 19 fatalities) have been deemed eligible for some compensation.

That number could grow, however.

The New York Times reports there are still more than 100 deaths claims to review, and more could very well be filed by Dec. 31, the deadline to do so. General Motors' fund to compensate victims and surviving family is currently at $400 million, the paper reports.

CNN reports families of those who died can collect a base of $1 million, plus an addition based on potential future earning potential, and $300,000 for each surviving spouse and dependent.

The New York Times says the identities of the victims in the 19 eligible deaths claims have not been publicly identified.

So Doug Weigel continues to wait.

He told ABC 6 he expects to find out the status of his family's claim within 60 days.

But, as he told the station, he just wants to "get it done with so we can move on with life, that's the biggest thing."

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