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This past week, the 35W compensation fund provided the amounts that individuals who filed for claims against the state would receive. Each party has until April 16 to decide to accept the compromised amount. Hopefully, the amounts will be able to help in part with the many losses coursed by the August 1st, 2007 tragedy.

In following this issue, it was clear that the fund was dealing with losses and concerns that arise from problematic insurance coverages:

Health Insurance– Under Minnesota law, the private health insurance that paid would only receive money back if the person was made whole. Thus, if all of the losses were covered for the claimant, the health insurance would be next in line.

ERISA Policies- These policies look like health insurance, but really is coverage that is self funded plans which, due to federal law, are able to write rules that allow them to get paid in full first. Thus, there needs to be close looks at each contract to see where money goes. In legislative testimony, this was an issue of great concern for members who were creating the compensation fund and hopefully these concerns will get to national legislators who could actually deal with these issues.

No Fault Coverage– This is coverage that you receive through your automobile policy. It is broken in to coverage for medical and wage loss/replacement services.

-On the medical side, there is an issue with physiological damages. Through a case called Amco vs Anderson, the Minnesota courts determined that no fault only pays for physical injuries. Therefore, there were a number of individuals suffering greatly from the mere fact of being on a bridge that collapsed and were barred from this coverage because of the type of injury it was. This is another area that the legislature could correct.

-As to wage loss, we haven’t seen changes in No Fault coverages in over 20 years. Thus, the $250.00 that people receive for wage loss really doesn’t replace the actual wage loss for many people. Off and on, the legislature looks at these amounts and as of yet hasn’t increased the benefit.

Municipal Caps- On top of governmental immunity issues that always come up in cases with the state, there also are limits on what can be received by each individual and all parties in total. These numbers have been looked at and increased over time by the legislature and presently, there are bills looking at future increases. In this case, the legislature, to their credit, went further and authorized a larger fund to compensate as many individuals as possible. By accepting the amounts, the person is settling any and all claims against the government.

These were gaps or repayment issues that had to be considered in each case over and above the actual pain and suffering losses of each of these claimants

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