Compensation plan best for victims

The financial toll America paid Sept. 11 is being calculated, but the cost in lives is estimated to be more than 6,000. The country and the companies in the World Trade Center feel the impact of the loss, but not nearly as deeply as those who lost family members in the tragedy.

Each family that lost a companion, parent, sibling or child lost more than emotional stability and support; they also lost the victim’s financial contributions. In many cases, the victims contributed money their families need. The families need immediate relief from financial burdens – from funeral expenses to grocery bills – so they can concentrate on working through their personal grief. However, their suffering should not carry over too far into the economic problems our nation faces.

The federal government and the American Red Cross have set up programs to financially assist the families of victims from the plane crashes and collapsed buildings. The Red Cross should be commended for its fast and efficient handling of money for the victim’s families. Also, the Red Cross Liberty Fund will assist the victims’ families with rent and mortgage payments, daily expenditures, funeral costs and additional expenses, even if there is no death certificate.

Another commendable solution is found in the federal government’s airline bailout bill, which will compensate families if they agree not to sue the airlines. These families should recognize the offer’s benefits and agree to it. If the families of the passengers reject the government’s offer and attempt to sue the airlines, the industry could face insurmountable debt and bankruptcy. Also, if the families file a class-action lawsuit against the airlines involved, a win or settlement would harm the national economy, considering the number of victims.

Fortunately, the government’s offer includes a payment for lifetime earning potential, so the family will receive the deceased’s annual salary for each year the person would have been employed in addition to the deceased’s pension plan. The offer also includes compensation for pain and suffering. Those who choose to sue the airlines, despite the offer, will accumulate large legal expenses and have a much longer wait. The government plan is the best solution in a situation without good solutions. The potential benefits for those who choose to sue an already fragile industry are so few. It makes little sense not to take the government’s offer.