BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Americas
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 11:30 GMT
Terror attack pay-outs under review
Pictures of victims of the 11 September attacks
Nearly 3,000 people died in the World Trade Center
Rules regulating compensation for relatives of people killed in the 11 September attacks in the US are to be reviewed after criticism from families and politicians.

Some families whose loved ones died in the World Trade Center say that a formula which ties the size of the pay-outs to a victim's age and income will mean poorer families losing out.

It would be terrible if the families of those victims were to be victimised again

Congressman Peter King
They are also angry that insurance or pension awards will be deducted from the total.

The BBC's Fergal Parkinson, in New York, says the criticism comes as the Salvation Army in the city admits that it has been inundated with requests for help from victims' families and is struggling to keep up.

Lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, who was appointed "Special Master" to oversee the federal compensation fund, has said he will review all the regulations.

Compensation plans
Official count of victims: 3,126
$250,000 for each victim's family, plus $50,000 for each spouse and dependent
Extra compensation for economic loss based on age and earnings

Soon after the suicide attacks on New York and Washington, the US Government announced that compensation using federal funds would be paid to the families of victims.

Mr Feinberg initially estimated that each family would receive about $1.6m.

But some families - supported by four members of Congress - say pay-outs could be much less.

The existing interim rules would give the family of each victim $250,000 for pain and suffering plus $50,000 for each spouse and dependent.

On top of that is compensation for economic loss based on a complex formula which includes age and earnings.

Victims' relatives comfort each other
The task of putting value on people's lives is proving controversial
But private insurance and pension fund awards that families may have already received would be deducted from the total sum.

Contributions from charity would not be deducted.

Critics of the system say some families could receive little more than the compensation for pain and suffering, which they say is inadequate.

They are also concerned that because economic loss is based on how much a victim earned before they died, poorer families will be discriminated against.

Relatives who apply to the fund would also largely give up their right to sue.

'Fight for fairness'

New York Congressman Peter King said: "It would be terrible if the families of those victims were to be victimised again by the regulations that are being enacted by the Special Master."

Congressman Felix Grucci added: "We're talking about a $250,000 cap. You could... probably earn more on a slip-and-fall claim than these people will get for losing their loved ones."

Ground Zero
Large structures have been cleared away at Ground Zero
Beverly Eckert, whose husband Sean Rooney died in the south tower of the World Trade Center, said it was a fight for fairness.

"The figure that Kenneth Feinberg selected for pain and suffering in no way represents what the people who died went through," she said.

When asked about the award, Mr Feinberg said: "We are reviewing all the regulations.

"I am concerned that there are families of the victims who are troubled by this."

Mr Feinberg has until 21 January to finalise the rules.

As the row continued, the Salvation Army said it was struggling to cope with requests for help from victims' families.

It had promised to pay all bills for families but has not been able to because of the huge demand.

The BBC's Jane Standley
"Many of the victims' families are angry"
See also:

23 Dec 01 | Americas
Giuliani backs victims' claims fight
21 Dec 01 | Americas
Complaints over US compensation fund
21 Dec 01 | Business
First 11 September lawsuit filed
20 Dec 01 | Americas
Ground Zero fires finally out
15 Nov 01 | Business
US air crash victims favoured
11 Dec 01 | Americas
Tracing the WTC dead
14 Sep 01 | Business
Insurance costs 'incalculable'
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories