FILE - This Tuesday, April 1, 2014 file photo shows a key in the ignition switch of a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt in Alexandria, Va. Texas attorney Robert Hilliard has sued General Motors on behalf of 658 people injured or killed in crashes allegedly caused by faulty ignition switches. The lawsuit filed Tuesday, July 29, 2014 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan names 29 people who were killed and 629 who were hurt. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

Detroit, Michigan - General Motors has confirmed that at least 97 deaths are linked to faulty ignition switches on some of its cars as it weighs compensation claims.

The GM independent compensation fund said 45 death claims remained under review as of last Friday. The death toll rose from 90 confirmed claims in the week before.

The fund, administered by attorney Kenneth Feinberg, has been working through 4342 compensation claims for fatalities and injuries linked to the faulty equipment, which can cause the ignition to unintentionally switch out of the “on” position, disabling airbags and other functions.

GM knew of the ignition problem for more than a decade before it began recalling 2.6 million cars in February 2014.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT PROBE

The fund said on Monday there were at least 12 confirmed cases of crippling injuries, such as brain damage or double amputation, as a result of ignition-related crashes. And there were at least 167 eligible claims for hospitalisation or outpatient medical treatment.

The fund said that it still had a total of 669 claims under review.

GM will pay a minimum of $1 million (R12 million) in death compensation, $300 000 (R3.6 million) for the surviving spouse and another $300 000 for each surviving dependent.

Financial and medical treatment compensation of at least $20 000 (R24 000) will also be offered to those with eligible physical injury claims from an accident.

Claimants must waive any rights to litigation related to the ignition-switch defect to receive a payment.

GM still faces a Justice Department probe of its conduct in the long-delayed recall and numerous other lawsuits.