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Two more deaths eligible for General Motors compensation

The General Motors logo is seen outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan in this file photograph taken August 25, 2009. REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky/Files

By Julia Edwards

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Claims deemed eligible for compensation from a faulty ignition switch in General Motors Co vehicles rose slightly in the last week, including two additional deaths attributed to the defective switch, according to an official report on Monday.

As of Monday, the program had received 2,262 claims for injuries and deaths, according to the report from the lawyer overseeing the program to compensate for deaths and accidents linked to the part. That was up by 15 claims from a week earlier. The program began accepting claims on Aug. 1.

GM has been criticized for waiting 11 years to begin recalling millions of cars with ignition-switch problems that have been linked to fatalities.

The switch can slip out of position, stalling the vehicle and disabling air bags. The defect led to the recall of 2.6 million vehicles earlier this year.

Thirty-eight deaths have now been approved as eligible for payments, up from 36 previously, according to the report from the office of lawyer Kenneth Feinberg.

GM hired Feinberg, who ran high-profile victim compensation funds for the Sept. 11 attacks and Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to handle an out-of-court compensation program to pay claims on behalf of people injured or killed because of the switch. GM has said it gave Feinberg free rein to determine who to compensate and would not challenge his decisions.

Overall, the fund has received 239 claims for deaths, 150 for catastrophic injuries and 1,873 for less-serious injuries requiring hospitalization. Of those, claims from 38 deaths, six severe injuries and 45 other injuries have been deemed eligible for the program.

The report said 265 claims were deemed ineligible while 396 were still under review. Over 500 claims lacked sufficient paperwork or evidence and 986 had no documentation at all.

The original deadline for claims submissions was Dec. 31, but GM agreed to extend that to Jan. 31, 2015.

Eligible death claimants can receive more than $1 million. The amount of compensation has not been capped, and GM has set aside at least $400 million to cover its costs.

(Additional reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)