State Budget
4:08 pm
Mon January 3, 2011

Lawmaker floats idea of victims’ compensation fund

In the current budget year, the state of Washington is on track to pay 60-million dollars to settle damage and personal injury lawsuits filed against the state. That has some lawmakers alarmed, especially in light of the state’s multi-billion dollar budget crisis. Now, one state representative has an idea for a 9-11 style victims’ compensation fund.

Following the September 11th attacks, Congress created a fund to compensate the victims and their families if they agreed not to file a lawsuit. The advantage for the victims: they could avoid potentially years of litigation. The risk: they would be possibly undercompensated.

Now, Washington State Representative Deb Eddy wonders if a similar approach might help cash-strapped Washington. The state’s payouts for foster care abuse, traffic accidents and parolee crimes have doubled in the past five years. Eddy, a suburban Seattle Democrat, says the 9-11 Fund is just one example of how this might work:

“Years ago in this state we established the workman’s compensation fund because we recognized that using litigation was far more expensive than simply setting up a fund and making sure these people were taken care of.”

Eddy, a lawyer by training, is working on several proposals to rein-in Washington’s legal costs.