Victim Compensation Fund

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The September 11 Victim Compensation Fund

Congress created an unlimited Fund to provide monetary compensation for individuals who were physically injured because of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001. The key components of the victim compensation Fund are:

  • A no-fault insurance program by the government -- a victim will not have to prove who was at fault in order to collect compensation from the Fund;
  • No ceiling or limit on the amount of money to be paid by the federal government to victims or the representative of survivors who file claims under the Fund;
  • One person, a "special master," appointed by the Attorney General, will decide how much each claimant is paid. The special master will use hearing officers to help evaluate the claims;
  • The Attorney General's special master is not subject to confirmation by the Senate;
  • Any decision by the special master is final and not subject to appeal in any court;
  • The special master will decide whether a claimant is "eligible," the "extent of harm" and the "individual circumstances" for which a claimant will receive compensation and the amount of compensation;
  • The special master must make his decision within 120 days after the date the claim is filed;
  • The claimant will be paid 20 days after the decision of the special master;
  • The only eligible claimants are "individuals" who suffered physical harm or death because of the plane crashes of September 11, either on the ground or in the aircraft (terrorists and co-conspirators are excluded);
  • The Fund only covers individuals who have suffered "physical" harm as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11;
  • To be eligible, an individual (injured or deceased) had to be "present at" the site of a September 11 crash, and be there at the time of the crash or in its "immediate aftermath";
  • A claimant will have two years from the date on which regulations are promulgated under the Act to file a claim on the compensation Fund;
  • A survivor who files an early lawsuit will have 90 days from the issuance of regulations to withdraw the lawsuit and file a claim within the Fund;
  • Upon filing a claim under the Fund, claimants will immediately and permanently give up their right to file any lawsuit against any party responsible for their injuries on September 11;
  • Individuals who submit claims to the Fund have the right to be represented by an attorney but there is no provision for the payment of attorneys' fees;
  • This Fund does not presently cover any other terrorist attacks on any other occasion;
  • Claimants will have some rights to present evidence including witnesses and documents, and other due process rights to be determined by the special master;
  • The special master will not pay for punitive damages from the Fund;
  • The special master "shall" "reduce the amount of compensation paid under the Fund by any collateral source compensation the claimant has received or is entitled to receive.

Contact an Aviation Attorney near you to find out more about your legal rights.


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