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Don't Assume You'll Get Blank Check from GM

In 2014, GM has issued over 50 recalls for millions of cars in a crisis that has left the company's in CEO Mary Barra in constant damage control mode.

Earlier this summer, as part of its effort to manage the crisis, GM created a protocol to compensate victims who were seriously injured or had lost loved ones in crashes involving the ignition switch problem. GM retained Kenneth Feinberg to manage the General Motors Compensation Protocol. At the time he said that the "only limitation [GM] really laid out, was the limitation that only certain eligible vehicles are subject to this program." The list of eligible vehicles does not include all cars with faulty ignition switches or key rotation problems. Alan Adler, a spokesman for the Detroit automaker, confirmed that only roughly 2.5 million cars involved in the initial ignition switch recalls would be eligible for the compensation protocol.

That leaves more than 10 million cars that GM has recalled since March whose owners are not eligible to file a claim under the GM protocol according to Adler. Camille Biros, the deputy administrator of the protocol, told Fortune that the list of eligible vehicles was entirely in the hands of GM. Among the vehicles recalled since March, there have been three fatalities in two crashes involving Chevrolet Impalas, Adler said. He noted that GM does not know for sure that ignition switches causing airbags not to deploy were involved in these crashes, but it cannot be ruled out.

Despite this, GM doesn't think the problems in the 10 million cars recalled since March rise to the levels of those in the cars recalled in February and March. Adler also said that extensive testing has been done on all of the cars recalled for ignition switch problems, and that "nothing suggested that it was warranted" to include the rest of the recalled cars in the Feinberg protocol. He noted that GM had received few complaints and that "nothing led us to believe that there was anything approaching" the level of problems that were in the Cobalts and other cars included in the compensation protocol.

Adler said that the recalls done since March have been the result of GM's own investigations and testing, not complaints from customers. He did note that since the recalls were issued, the company has asked customers to come forward with similar issues. He added that cars recalled in February and March will have a full parts replacement, while those recalled after March only require an ignition insert that prevents the key from rotating when it's not supposed to.

If a customer believes GM should compensate them for an incident that took place in one of these cars, they'll have to go about it in the more traditional way, Adler said - by taking GM to court. That option is, of course, available to any GM customer, but those who decide to participate in the compensation plan are required to waive their right to sue the company.

If you or someone you love have been injured in an automobile accident, contact the attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, and Friend by calling 713-396-3964 or 1-800-594-4884.

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