State working on process to get $6M to fair collapse victims
There is $6 million set aside for victims of the Indiana State Fair tragedy, but those who need it most can't get it until the state figures out a new process. Lawmakers pushed to get the money approved months ago to help victims and their families.
Outside the Humphrey residence are fresh wood, hammers, and other signs of construction. Various family members have been working on new outdoor access for about a week. They're trying to help rebuild a life after the deadly stage rigging collapse at the Indiana State Fair.
"It's been rough on him. One day he's walking, one day he ain't, especially his last year of high school. But he ain't giving up," said Bart Humphrey.
Humphrey is talking about his grandson Bradley, who was paralyzed as a result of the stage collapse. He says it's the little things, like a wheelchair ramp, that can add some normalcy back to his grandson's life.
"That way, he can get in and out, no trouble," explained the elder Humphrey.
Bradley's family is working to increase his accessibility here at home. But within a few short months, he'll be on the move again, heading to college and that means more expense.
Now, 13 Investigates has learned, after going through one lengthy claim process last fall, the families of those who died and the dozens injured may be subject to a different process to collect the $6 million lawmakers set aside for them.
In an email sent to claimants a week ago, the Attorney General's office revealed it wanted to "make (families) aware of an additional claim process," saying it's trying to find "an efficient and respectful way" to distribute the money, while limiting lawsuits.
No one at the Attorney General's office would speak on camera about the new process, but told Eyewitness News the previous model won't work, because lawmakers approved specific payouts, first for the families of the seven people who died. In December, they received $300,000. Lawmakers have now cleared the way for them to get another $400,000 each, to push their total up to Indiana's maximum amount of $700,000.
Victims who suffered non-permanent physical injuries are to get 100 percent of their out-of-pocket medical costs paid. Previously, the state reimbursed just 65 percent of their medical bills. Those who suffered permanent paralysis or physical trauma could have their amounts determined through arbitration.
That includes Brad Humphrey. His initial payout was just over $500,000 back in December. Now, his family must decide whether they want to try to strike another deal.
State Representative Ed Delaney (D-Indianapolis), who pushed for extra compensation for the victims, told us he too is monitoring the situation. He says the problems dispersing the money are the result of the state doing less than it should.
Bradley's attorney, Scott Montrose, agrees. He says the additional money is a poor substitute for fair compensation and is woefully inadequate.