A $38 million agreement to compensate victims of the Minneapolis bridge collapse that killed 13 people and injured 145 others was reached last month. A House and Senate conference committee agreed to the settlement and the full Legislature approved it. Governor Tim Pawlenty has signed the bill into law. The bill recognizes “a catastrophe of historic proportions.” Everyone who was on the bridge when it fell, as well as their survivors and legal guardians, would qualify for up to $400,000 under the plan. Those whose injuries and losses were more severe could get more money for uncovered medical costs and wage losses from a $12.6 million supplemental fund. Exact amounts will be determined later by a panel of lawyers. The bill also contains $750,000 for administration and $610,000 for social services for a group of child victims through a Minneapolis community center.
The bridge buckled and collapsed into the Mississippi River during the evening rush hour, in August of last year, sending cars and construction equipment into the water and leaving a yellow school bus and other vehicles clinging precariously to tilting pavement. It took divers almost three weeks to recover all of the bodies. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the disaster. As reported, officials have focused on a design flaw involving beam-connecting steel plates and the weight of construction materials at vulnerable points in the bridge. Lawsuits by victims are on hold until a final determination is made. Victims who take a settlement must give up the right to sue the state and other units of government in Minnesota, but they do not waive the right to sue others. Under the settlement, the state is not admitting any liability. The Minnesota Supreme Court must appoint the compensation panel by June 30th, and collapse survivors have until October 15th to file a claim.
Source: Associated Press
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