Bridge Victims Accept State Payments

Ivy Chang, Editor | September 28, 2010

Last week, the state of Minnesota paid $37 million to 179 people, victims of the I-35W Bridge collapse, from its bridge fund created by the Minnesota Legislature in 2008.
Taxpayer money made up most of the first fund of $24 million from which individual claims of up to $400,000 were paid. A second fund of $12.6 million was paid to families of the 13 individuals who died and to survivors who had the most serious injuries.
Payments ranged from $4,500 to $2.2 million paid to a survivor who had broken bones and a head injury when the family van flipped in mid-air and crashed upside down on the bridge wreckage. 
The three-lawyer panel which decided on each settlement said the money is not taxable; it will replace what was lost. In addition, insurance companies cannot make claims on this money and those who have paid medical or property claims to survivors have signed waivers to that effect. 
Survivors who are minors will have their settlements put into special accounts which they can access when they become adults, except money to be used for medical expenses.
Settlements end the state’s compensation program while private lawsuits are underway. Relatives of the 13 people who died and more than 100 survivors are part of a group that is planning to sue URS, the engineering consulting firm to the Minnesota Department of Transportation on maintenance of the I-35W Bridge, and PCI, the construction company working on the bridge deck when the bridge collapsed on August 1, 2007.
The list of people and their settlements is public information and was posted online. The Legislature took testimony from survivors after the settlements were paid on the effectiveness of the relief fund.