Deadline Has Passed for State Negligence and Wrongful Death Claims in Indianapolis Stage Collapse

On August 13, 2011, high winds caused a stage to collapse at the Indiana State Fair, killing seven people and injuring dozens more. Multiple personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits have been filed as a result of this tragedy, including 100 claims filed with the State of Indiana. Although the deadline for filing with the state was November 1, 2011, a few more claims that were postmarked on that date but arrived late may be added to the total.

The state of Indiana has a cap of $5 million on what it will pay for the accident, which sounds like a large sum of money, except it has to be divided among numerous victims. The maximum payout per person is $700,000. If this amount is paid out to the seven families whose relatives were killed, that adds up to $4.9 million, leaving only $100,000 for all of the other victims to split, including those who were seriously injured. The state has not decided how the money will be split, only that families of those who were killed and those who were seriously injured will be compensated first.

One of the attorneys representing some of the victims is fighting the $5 million cap with a personal injury lawsuit in casa grande and is questioning whether someone other than the state should be deciding how to divide the money. He thinks having individual cases heard by judges and juries would be fairer to the victims. Another attorney cautions victims to read the fine print if they receive part of the settlement from the state. She says accepting the money may preclude them from pursuing lawsuits against other parties.

In addition to the $5 million from the state of Indiana, a State Fair Relief Fund was established for victims of this accident. This fund is made up of money donated by the public to assist those victims that were hospitalized. Unfortunately, not all injured victims qualify for aid from this fund. An overnight hospital stay before October 2, 2011 is a requirement to receive money from this fund, which Kenneth Feinberg, a compensation specialist said is “a pretty good indicator of seriousness of injury.” Not all victims are seeing it that way. One woman who suffered a head injury and is unable to work for at least 2 ½ months does not qualify because she did not stay overnight. Another man who required knee surgery after October 2nd also does not qualify, even though he is unable to work and is only receiving two-thirds of his pay through workers compensation. The deadline to file a claim for part of the $500,000 remaining from this fund is November 14, 2011.

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