Some State Fair victims face staggering medical costs
INDIANAPOLIS - Time is running out for victims of the stage collapse to get their share of a $5 million state fund.
But as the deadline draws near, attorneys for a local teen paralyzed in the State Fair tragedy warn that the state is not prepared to meet victims' needs.
Seventeen-year-old Bradley Humphrey is a high school tennis player who is getting used to a different set of wheels. He suffered a back injury when the rigging came down just before Sugarland were set to take the stage Aug. 13th at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Now 13 Investigates has learned the community's generosity from the State Fair Relief Fund is being counted against him by the federal government. His mother confirms he's being denied Social Security Benefits until the $25,000 gift is gone.
"Social Security is a federal program, and I think this just underscores the responsibility the state has to step up and not just say we'll give you this inadequate limit to divide amongst folks," attorney Scott Montross told 13 Investigates.
Scott Montross is Bradley's attorney. He says both the relief fund and the state's $5 million liability fund are flawed.
Montross can't do much about the feds and the community relief fund. But with just one day left for State Fair victims to file pre-lawsuit paperwork with the Attorney General's office, Montross wants the state to reconsider its $5 million cap for the families of those who died, and kids like Bradley who'll never be the same.
"It's woefully inadequate," Montross said. "This really is in the hands of the legislature and the governor to just step up. This is just about doing what's right for these people."
So far 68 victims have filed pre-lawsuit notices against the state.
At least six victims are asking for the maximum $700,000 each to compensate for family members killed or critically injured. Those six claims alone would wipe out $4.2 million of the $5 million fund.
Montross says it doesn't take into account the lifetime of care Bradley now faces.
According to Montross, Bradley has more than $4 million just in projected living expenses. He's expected to lose over $1 million in lifetime employment wages and faces medical bills well over half a million dollars.
The way it stands now, Montross says there are few options except multiple lawsuits against the state, Mid-America Sound, Thomas Engineering and Sugarland, if it's determined the band was negligent in setting up its equipment.
"The Sugarland band itself will not be affected at all. They have insurance for these kinds of things," explained Montross.
A group of about 25 attorneys are trying to work with the state on dealing with victims' claims. They're suggesting that perhaps a panel of judges or arbitrators review the claims and come up with a more accurate payout from the state on this one tragedy.
The deadline to file for the liability fund is Tuesday, November 1st.