Accident Victims Stand to Lose in GM Deal

Arlene Dinnigan was driving her GMC Envoy when it slammed into a tree. Her daughter, Amanda, who was strapped in with a seatbelt was severely injured, reports CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston.

Dinnigan can't help but feel that it was her fault.

Amanda is now a quadriplegic - she can barely move her head and needs a ventilator to breathe. Her father blames a faulty seatbelt design for Amanda's paralysis.

"The seatbelt went across her neck and almost took her head off," Robert Dinnigan, Amanda's father said. "It broke her neck."

Amanda's around the clock care costs nearly $500,000 a year, but after two years, the family's insurance is about to max out.

They filed a lawsuit against GM, hoping to recover damages to pay for Amanda's medical bills. But when GM went into bankruptcy last month, the Dinnegan's case was put on hold and may never be heard in a courtroom.

"I am her father," Robert Dinnigan said. "I have to fight for my little girl to get what she deserves. And I will not stop until Amanda gets her day in court."

Taking a page from Chrysler, GM and the government are trying to shed hundreds of product liability cases that have lead to injuries and deaths. That means the new GM will not be responsible for any claims filed before the June 1 bankruptcy.

Which is why the Dinnigans and other claimants, like Callan Campbell, were at the U.S. bankruptcy court today, urging the judge to allow their cases to go forward.

"Everyone should be compensated for what GM has neglected to make safe," Campbell said.

For now, Amanda and other claimants are being treated the same way as bondholders, vendors, lawyers - and everyone else owed money by GM. Whatever funds are left after bankruptcy will be divided among them.

"They've been hurt and if their day in court is taken away from them and the right to recover any medical expenses, lost wages or pain and suffering is taken away from them, they'll be hurt again," said Barry Bressler, an attorney.

If the bankruptcy court leaves claimants unprotected, advocates say Congress should force GM and Chrysler to set funds aside to compensate those who provided they're victims of defective vehicles.