Several Virginia legislators are deciding whether the limits on the state’s liability should be increased after the Virginia Tech shootings last April. The $100,000 limit on tort claims against the state has not been raised since 1993, leaving it as one of the most restrictive caps in the United States. After the forty families of the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings filed claims against the state, some legislators thought the issue of reform should be brought up and discussed over the summer. Because the General Assembly would not consider raising the cap until it assembles in January, it would not apply to the families of the Virginia Tech shootings. The effort to study the cap, however, should start a broad debate about Virginia’s protection under sovereign immunity, which implies the government can do no wrong and cannot be sued.
The cap has severely complicated the efforts of Virginia Tech victims to sue the state. Because of this, the families have agreed in principle to accept an $11 million settlement, in exchange for dropping the lawsuits against the state. Under the agreement, the state will still pay $100,000 to the victims and also offer the victims health benefits and other non-monetary assistance, while admitting to doing no wrong. The victims who were injured in the shooting can also receive up to $100,000 based on the severity of the injuries. While trying to avoid the $100,000 cap, the state has sought creative ways to help the families’ needs, such as a $1.75 million hardship fund in which the victims can draw upon in addition to their direct payments. There will also be a $1.75 million fund that the victim’s families can use to donate money to charities.
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All out-of-state students need to be aware that VA's employees & institutions are not held accountable for gross or willful negligence. Basically, VA does not take care of its own.Sovereign immunity fosters - and perhaps rewards -a cavalier and pervasive disregard for the letter and spirit of accountability and public safety.VT "leadership" had the time & technology to alert the campus of a killer-at-large. What were they talking about for 2+ hours? Student safety? The $1 Billion fund-raiser? Almost 3 hours after the first homicides, 57 Hokies were trapped & gunned down in 8 minutes. 30 were murdered.If VA really cared about its victims, it would change sovereign immunity & make it retroactive for Hokies who were in class on Mon morn at the end of 2nd semester. Something is rotten in Virginia.
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