Deadline to file for 35W bridge compensation is today

Cars in water
Dozens of cars were plunged into the Mississippi River when the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed on Aug. 1, 2007. More than 140 people were injured and 13 people died in the collapse.
Photo courtesy of Kelly Kahle

Today is the deadline for survivors of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse to claim a settlement from a $36 million compensation fund.

Survivors pushed for a compensation fund after the disaster as their medical bills piled up, with some reaching well above $1 million.

Gov. Pawlenty signed the fund into law in May 2008, allowing everyone who was on the bridge when it fell to qualify for up to $400,000 in relief from the state.

Victims whose injuries and losses were more severe could be eligible for additional money. A panel of lawyers will determine the exact amount of compensation for each victim.

Pawlenty signs bridge fund
Gov. Tim Pawlenty signs the bridge compensation fund bill into law in May 2008, flanked by the sponsors -- DFL Rep. Ryan Winkler on the left and DFL Sen. Ron Latz on the right. Bridge victims and their family members in attendance, some still in casts and wheelchairs.
MPR Photo/Tom Scheck

While victims who accept money from the fund waive their right to sue the state, a consortium is expected to file lawsuits against a consulting firm and a construction company related to their work in assessing the bridge's condition before the disaster.

Lawyers for more than 100 bridge collapse victims say the National Transportation Safety Board reached the wrong conclusion about the 35W bridge collapse and that the agencies hired by the state knew the bridge could not expand or contract properly under stress.

Tons of construction equipment and sand were on the bridge over the Mississippi River when it collapsed on Aug. 1, 2007, killing 13 people and injuring more than 140.