9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
Written by Andrew Sarski on March 31, 2011
The 9/11 Fund Described
Shortly after the events of September 11, Congress passed the Air Transportation Safety and Stabilization Act to protect air carriers from tort lawsuits that threatened to cripple American air travel. Under this act, tort lawsuits against the airlines were capped at their pre-existing liability insurance limits and limited jurisdiction for tort claims to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Furthermore, the act established the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 for the families of individuals who died or were seriously injured in the attacks. The Fund provided monetary compensation for families based on economic and non-economic losses in exchange for giving up their right to sue U.S. entities, such as airlines.
Development of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
Following the September 11th attacks, the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, American Airlines and United Airlines requested federal aid, protecting them against lawsuits arising from the attack. Apparently, Congress objected that victims of the attack should not lose their right to sue and receive nothing in return. So, Congress agreed to create the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund. According to the act, the Fund was created to provide speedy and generous compensation to the families of the deceased and physically injured. Later that year, Congress extended the Fund to prevent suits against New York City, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Boeing (who manufactured the planes used in the attack), and the jet fuel manufacturers (who sold the fuel to the airlines).
In order to be eligible to receive compensation under the Fund, victims had to have either been killed or have:
- Been on the airplanes or at the World Trade Center or Pentagon sites within twelve hours of the attacks
- Have suffered a physical injury
- Have been treated by a medical professional within 24 hours of the injury, within 24 hours of rescue, or within 72 hours of injury or rescue for those victims who were unable to realize the extent of their injuries, or for whom medical treatment was not immediately available
September 11 Victim Compensation Fund Awards and Payouts
Rescue workers who were at the site within 96 hours of the attack were also eligible under the Fund. The Fund granted awards for economic loss based on the victim’s annual income prior to the attack, and by the end of 2003, 97% of the 2,976 individuals killed in the attacks had submitted a claim. Payouts for death claims ranged from $250,000 to $7.1 million, with an average of $1.8 million. The Fund also compensated 2,677 individuals injured in the attacks, with compensation ranging from $500 to $8.6 million. Total payouts for the Fund were approximately $6.9 billion of taxpayers’ money.