Most families of victims of the mass shootings at Virginia Tech that left 32 people dead have agreed to an $11 million settlement of their claims. The settlement was said to compensate families who lost loved ones and pay survivors’ medical costs. According to Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a “substantial majority” of families of victims of the shootings agreed to the settlement. Families who have not agreed to the settlement can file suit. However, notice had to be filed by April 16th in order to sue the state or the university.
As you will recall, 32 persons were killed and about two dozen others were wounded on April 16, 2007. Forty families had previously filed notice with the state that they might file suit. University officials were criticized for waiting about two hours before informing students and employees about the first shootings, which police initially thought were an act of domestic violence. The gunman had been ruled a danger to himself during a court commitment hearing in 2005 and was ordered to receive outpatient mental health care, but never received treatment.
By accepting the settlement proposal, family members gave up the right to sue the state government, the school, the local governments serving Virginia Tech and the community services board that provides mental-health services in the area. Settlements on behalf of those killed must be submitted for court approval. In October, the families and surviving victims received payments ranging from $11,500 to $208,000 from a fund set up in the days after the shootings to handle donations that poured into the school. As I understand it, that fund will remain open for contributions to scholarships for five years. Families originally were told they had to respond to the state’s offer by March 31st, but the deadline was extended. It will be interesting to see how the settlement works out. A global settlement of all claims is a most difficult thing to accomplish, considering the setting of the events and the potential defendants.
Source: Insurance Journal
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