As you probably know, Chrysler admitted earlier this year that just over 2.5 million of its vehicles had defective ignition switches. The switches were faulted in at least 165 deaths and countless more serious injuries.
In an effort to control litigation costs, Chrysler has set up a claim process that will serve as an alternative to litigation. If injured as a result of a faulty ignition switch, you may submit a claim, and it will be reviewed by attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who will make awards that Chrysler has agreed to pay. The hope is that the process will be expedited and reduce costs. Under the proposal, your claim must be made between August 1 and December 31 of this year, and Mr. Feinberg has a goal of resolving each claim within 90 to 180 days of filing.
From a claimant’s perspective, the biggest potential advantage appears to be the speed of the filing and resolution. A typical products liability lawsuit would usually take much longer than the time hoped for in this process. Additionally, Mr. Feinberg has publicly stated that he doesn’t want to litigate issues relating to whether the claimant’s conduct contributed to the wreck — for example, was the claimant drunk, speeding, etc. Those types of issues would obviously be huge concerns in a trial.
On the downside, Mr. Feinberg has a lot of experience in evaluating claims and making awards in situations such as this (he handled the Sept. 11 Victim’s Compensation Fund and he’s currently doing similar work in the BP oil spill arena), and he has received a fair amount of criticism about his awards in the BP case.
If you don’t want to enter the process, then you can still file a lawsuit. However, which path to take is a decision that must be made on a case-by-case basis.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a wreck caused by a faulty ignition switch, please call us and we’ll try to help you.