Victims of last year’s Indiana State Fair stage collapse will begin seeing checks in the mail as the state distributes six million dollars set aside by the General Assembly last session.
Last December, the state paid out $5 million from its tort claims cap. That included giving $300,000 to the families of the deceased and paying 65 percent of the injured victims’ medical expenses. From the $6 million allocated by the legislature, the state will provide an additional $400,000 to the deceased victims and up the medical reimbursement to 100 percent for those who were injured but survived. Attorney General Greg Zoeller says even though a civil trial involving the private companies responsible for the stage rigging is not scheduled to begin until 2014, the state is ending its financial obligation first.
“To bring fairness into the process and give the claimants and their attorneys an opportunity to be heard really was the fair way but it was also the most expedited way to speed relief to those who have suffered,” Zoeller says.
Indianapolis lawyer Tony Patterson represents many of the victims and says even though more legal action is to come, he’s satisfied for the moment with the job done by state arbitrators.
“I think they’ve done the very best job they can with a difficult process and a difficult circumstance. From that perspective, I think that my clients and I feel like that the process was fair,” Patterson says.
The amounts paid to injured victims in this round of state relief money ranged from a few hundred dollars to more than $600,000.