Indiana Expediting Claim Process for Victims of State Fair State Collapse

September 22, 2011

Families of those who died and victims who were injured in the Indiana State Fair incident on Aug. 13, 2011, are being asked to complete a new customized claim form, now available online and through a toll-free number, in order to seek monetary settlements from the state.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller reports that by completing the posted claim form, victims can apply for payments from the Indiana Tort Claim Fund under an expedited process. Victims and their families are asked to file their claims using the customized form no later than Nov. 1.

Created by law, the Tort Claim Fund is made up of public dollars and exists so that individuals can receive settlement payments from the state without necessarily having to hire an attorney or go to court.

The attorney general has hired the claims-management firm, JWF Specialty Company of Indianapolis, to handle the claims intake and process forms. The JWF claims managers who answer calls to the toll-free number are prepared to assist victims with any questions about the claim-form process.

Before the customized form was set up, a total 21 claimants already had filed tort notices with the state using the regular process. Those earlier claimants are asked to also complete the customized form and provide any requested information they had not included previously.

Kenneth Feinberg and the AG’s office will review the claims and recommend distribution of settlement payments out of the Tort Claim Fund according to a new protocol Feinberg is developing. Feinberg is donating his consultant services at no cost to the state or taxpayers.

State statutes limit Indiana to paying no more than $700,000 per individual or $5 million per incident to settle tort claims. In providing settlement payments on an expedited basis up to the total $5 million limit for the overall incident, the state does not admit liability, the AG’s office said.

Claimants who choose not to accept a settlement offer have the legal right to pursue a lawsuit against the state, but the individual and per-incident limits on liability still apply.

Claimants legally have 270 days to file a tort claim notice with the state, however the AG’s office is informally requesting claimants file the customized forms by Nov. 1 in order to expedite financial assistance to victims and families of victims who choose to participate.

Valid claims can be filed after Nov. 1, but funding will likely be exhausted and not available to settle those claims after that date.

Separately, the Indiana State Fair Commission is developing a framework for distributing private charitable donations made to the Indiana State Fair Relief Fund to assist victims. Feinberg also is advising the State Fair Commission on protocols for eligibility and payment amounts from the relief fund.

Since payments from that private fund will be charitable gifts, they will utilize a separate process that will be announced at a later date.

The claim form can be downloaded from the Web site of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General at http://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2849.htm. The form also can be obtained by calling the toll-free claim-intake line at 1-800-760-4616.

The Web site and phone number are for state tort claim compensation only, not for payments from the relief fund.

Source: Indiana Attorney General’s Office

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