Deadline approaches for marathon compensation fund
BOSTON (AP) — The primary compensation fund for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings got a flurry of applications Friday, a day before the deadline to file a claim.
The One Fund deputy administrator Camille Biros said 188 claims had been filed by the end of the business day Friday, and more claims were expected as the Saturday deadline approached. Just 98 claims had been filed by the start of the week.
“We’re well on our way to getting everybody,” Biros said. “We know we have the most seriously injured.”
Three people were killed and more than 260 injured during the April 15 twin bombings near the marathon’s finish line. The One Fund was quickly established by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Gov. Deval Patrick, and has grown to more than $47 million.
Its administrator, attorney Kenneth Feinberg, set a deadline of Saturday for claims to be submitted, followed by a 10-day period when he’ll interview potential recipients. He’ll then make payment recommendations to the city, before money begins going out at month’s end.
But Leo Boyle, the past president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, urged The One Fund to hold off on at least a portion of the payments to ensure everybody who qualifies for a payment gets money, even if they miss the deadline.
“A deadline should be an aspiration, it shouldn’t be a disqualification,” he said.
Boyle said some reports put the total number treated at hospitals as more than 280, so there’s a significant potential pool of people who haven’t applied.
It’s still unknown how many of those injuries were serious enough to merit a payment, but Boyle said some of the seriously hurt may still be dealing with the trauma and treatment after the attack and won’t make the deadline.
“This is a charity, it isn’t a class action lawsuit,” said Boyle, whose firm represents three of marathon bombing victims. “The door shouldn’t be closed until every single victim is accounted for.”
Biros said The One Fund will be “flexible” with people who come forward with a serious claim after the deadline. She added there’s been such extensive outreach about the fund she’s confident everyone who was injured knows about it.
She said extending the deadline would only delay the disbursement of funds for those with acute needs, such as mounting bills or home modifications.
Pete DiMartino, who absorbed major amounts of shrapnel and had his right Achilles tendon almost completely severed in the bombings, said he sent in the three-page application last week and it wasn’t burdensome or traumatic.
“I think that I was able to kind of talk everything out, as far as mentally goes,” said the 28-year-old bartender from Webster, N.Y. ”(The application) wasn’t that much of a problem.”
Carol Downing’s daughter, Erika Brannock, lost most of her left leg in the bombings and remains at a rehabilitation hospital in Maryland. Downing said she worries that her daughter’s condition could worsen after the money is given out.
“We still don’t know that they’re going to be able to salvage the one leg that she has, which would put her in a totally different category,” said Downing, of Monkton, Md.
The size of The One Fund awards will be based on the severity of an injury, and some who were injured may not get money, depending on how Feinberg divides the funds.
Relatives of those who died, or victims with double amputations or permanent brain damage, will receive the most money. Next are those with single amputations, following by those injured severely enough to require an overnight hospital stay. Those treated and released without an overnight stay are next.
Feinberg has warned that despite its impressive total, The One Fund won’t be nearly large enough to fully compensate those who were hurt.
Downing said she appreciates whatever she gets and added she’s under no illusion that even $1 million will cover her 29-year-old daughter’s needs for the rest of her life. A single prosthesis for her daughter would cost about $75,000, she said, and requires replacement every five years or so.
DiMartino said he trusts Feinberg will be fair and isn’t expecting a certain amount.
“It’s just one more thing that’s going to help me get back to where I was before all this happened,” he said.