Families of collapse victims may see little compensation - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Families of collapse victims may see little compensation

Updated:
The grandstand stage at the State Fair collapsed August 13. The grandstand stage at the State Fair collapsed August 13.
Beth Urschel's life partner, Tammy VanDam, was killed in the collapse. Beth Urschel's life partner, Tammy VanDam, was killed in the collapse.
Jenny Haskell also died of injuries suffered in the accident. Jenny Haskell also died of injuries suffered in the accident.
  • HeadlinesHeadlinesMore>>

  • 70s return, cooler mid week

    70s return, cooler mid week

    Sunday, April 20 2014 9:26 AM EDT2014-04-20 13:26:29 GMT
    A glorious Easter Sunday is in store with abundant sunshine and temperatures climbing into the mid 70s. The wind will begin to shift out of the south today, allowing temperatures to rise ten degrees above normal.More >>
    A glorious Easter Sunday is in store with abundant sunshine and temperatures climbing into the mid 70s. The wind will begin to shift out of the south today, allowing temperatures to rise ten degrees above normal.More >>
  • Eleven fight for 1:1 draw in front of sellout crowd

    Eleven fight for 1:1 draw in front of sellout crowd

    Sunday, April 20 2014 8:47 AM EDT2014-04-20 12:47:08 GMT
    It was a night of repeats for Indy Eleven as the North American Soccer League expansion side attracted its second consecutive sellout crowd at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium in addition to its second 1-1 draw, this time against the Tampa Bay Rowdies.More >>
    It was a night of repeats for Indy Eleven as the North American Soccer League expansion side attracted its second consecutive sellout crowd at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium in addition to its second 1-1 draw, this time against the Tampa Bay Rowdies.More >>
  • BREAKING: One dead & two houses burn in two alarm fire

    BREAKING: One dead & two houses burn in two alarm fire

    Sunday, April 20 2014 6:49 AM EDT2014-04-20 10:49:07 GMT
    Photo courtesy Indianapolis Fire Department.Photo courtesy Indianapolis Fire Department.
    The Indianapolis Fire department confirms that one person has died in a two alarm fire on the near northwest side.
     
    We will have the latest on this fire on Weekend Sunrise at 6 a.m.
    More >>
    The Indianapolis Fire department confirms that one person has died in a two alarm fire on the near northwest side.
     
    We will have the latest on this fire on Weekend Sunrise at 6 a.m.
    More >>

INDIANAPOLIS - Some families won't see a dime of settlement money from the state after the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair.

Seven people have died and others are still hospitalized with critical injures more than a week after the rigging on the grandstand stage collapsed August 13. Cincinnati native Meagan Toothman will likely be the seventh victim of the tragedy once her organs are donated Monday afternoon.

But without a spouse or children, under Indiana law, the 24-year-old Toothman's family will be entitled to a maximum of $300,000 for medical and funeral expenses, as well as "loss of love and companionship."

"It's harsh. It's discriminatory. It's unfair," said personal injury attorney Bruce Kehoe.

Kehoe, who does not represent any of the State Fair victims, says there should be no maximum amount.

"As a parent you can have a child go all the way through college and they graduate and the measure of your loss is capped at $300,00. That's seemingly unconscionable," Kehoe said.

Indiana law will prevent some victim's relatives from receiving any compensation at all. That's because in at least one case, the state does not recognize that the victim was married.

Beth Urschel, who was injured in the collapse and who's life partner, Tammy VanDam, was killed, filed suit last week.

"We had so many plans and things we wanted to do. This was her birthday weekend and I was taking her down to see her favorite band," Urschel said at a news conference last week.

Even though the two were joined in a civil union in Hawaii ten years ago, Urschel won't be able to collect damages as a spouse, because Indiana does not recognize same-sex marriage.

But while Parker City native Jennifer Haskell was 22 without a spouse or children, her family could be entitled to up to $700,000 dollars. That's because, since she was still in school and under 23, she is considered a child, so her parents are entitled to greater compensation.

Total compensation from the state cannot exceed $5 million, so when the investigation is complete, in addition to Indiana, many private companies will likely be sued.

Powered by WorldNow