WASHINGTON -- General Motors (IW 500/5) has agreed to extend the deadline for compensation claims related to an ignition-switch problem that has been linked to 32 deaths.
The largest US automaker has been under fire over the defect in many models sold from 1998-2011 in which the faulty ignition system could turn off power to a car's power steering and safety airbags while it is in motion.
The company has set up an independent compensation fund for victims, run by attorney Kenneth Feinberg, with plans to pay $1 million per fatality plus $300,000 to each surviving spouse and possible beneficiary.
The GM fund was to accept compensation claims through December 31, but announced it had heeded a call to extend that deadline.
"We agreed with Ken Feinberg's recommendation to extend the compensation program deadline," the company said in a statement. "Our goal with the program has been to reach every eligible person impacted."
The company did not specify the new deadline, but US media reported it would add a month to allow more claims to come forward from families who may not have been aware of the program.
Those who accept compensation under the Feinberg-led process give up the right to sue GM otherwise.
GM also faces investigations from Congress, regulators and the Justice Department over why it waited more than a decade after first uncovering the ignition-switch problem to start recalling cars.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014