Veterans’ Fund FAQ
What is the Fund and How Does It Work?
The Fund was created after legislation passed through Congress in order to provide certain victims of international terrorism with compensation for the harm they suffered at the hands of state-sponsored terrorism.
“The Fund was established by legislation in 2015 and is administered by the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section in the Criminal Division of the federal Department of Justice,” the Department of Justice wrote in a press release earlier this year. “Congress authorized the department to deposit certain forfeiture proceeds, penalties and fines into the Fund if they come from civil and criminal matters involving prohibited transactions with state sponsors of terrorism. Originally, Congress provided $1.025 billion for payments to victims, and recent Justice Department prosecutions and U.S. government enforcement actions have increased the total available for initial payments to more than $1.1 billion.”
In general, the Fund was created to provide victims of international state sponsored terrorism who were granted final judgments in a U.S. district court against a state sponsor of terrorism compensation. Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC helps qualified claimants who seek to obtain the final judgments they need from the court system so that the judgments may then be presented to the Fund.
Who Can File a Claim?
U.S. persons, including members of the armed forces, and members of their immediate family, may be eligible to file a claim if it arises against a state sponsor of terrorism and results from an act of international terrorism. Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC is currently investigating injuries and deaths that arose because of explosively formed penetrator (“EFP”) and improvised explosive device (“IED”) explosions, such as from “roadside bombs,” as well as other injuries and deaths that arose from rocket-propelled grenades (“RPGs”), mortars, and other armaments, which occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan and that can be linked to Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. Injuries and deaths to U.S. persons and their families who have suffered from such actions caused by other forms of terrorism may also qualify.
Who Is an Eligible Claimant?
According to the Department of Justice,
An individual with a final judgment issued by a U.S. district court under state or federal law against a state sponsor of terrorism and arising from an act of international terrorism, for which the foreign state was found not immune under provisions of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FISA).
Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC PLLC helps qualified claimants who seek to obtain the final judgments they need from the court system so that the judgments may then be presented to the Fund.
What is a Final Judgment?
The Justice for U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act (the “Act”) defines a final judgment as an enforceable final judgment, decree, or order on liability and damages entered by a U.S. district court that is not subject to further appellate review. The final judgment awards the claimant compensatory damages on a claim or claims brought in a U.S. district court, under either federal or state law, that were the result of international terrorism acts that the court found that U.S. courts could issue judgements in the foreign states involved. If you are a qualified claimant, the law firm of Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC PLLC may be able to help you obtain your final judgment to present to the Fund.
What Is the Process After My Legal Claim Is Filed?
Once a legal claim is filed seeking a Final Judgment, a federal judge may determine whether you or the member of the immediate family of a terrorism victim may recover on a terrorism claim under applicable federal laws. If such an award is granted, the judge may award an amount of money to compensate the terror victim and members of their immediate family for pain, suffering, medical bills, and future medical and financial needs. The court’s Final Judgment may then be presented to the Fund for payment. There are no guarantees of recovery.
Can I Obtain an Award from the Fund Without a Final Judgment?
No, except for claims by qualifying Iran hostages or their spouses or children. All other claims must be based on a final judgment of a court.
Do I Have to Be a U.S. Citizen to be Eligible?
No. Non-U.S. citizens who otherwise qualify may be eligible.
What Countries Qualify as State Sponsors of Terrorism?
Iran, Sudan, and Syria are currently designated by the Secretary of State as state sponsors of terrorism. The list is subject to change.
How Much of My Final Judgment Will I Be Awarded?
In general, claims deemed eligible will be paid from the Fund on a pro rata basis out of available funds, depending on the unpaid and outstanding amounts on these claims either until the Fund terminates in 2026, or when all claims have been fully paid. The payment percentage for the initial distribution in 2017 was 13.66%. The Act provides for certain adjustments to the pro rata calculations. The Act sets forth statutory limitations, or caps, on awards in certain circumstances. If an applicant is awarded gross compensatory damages that exceed $20 million, then that claim will be treated by the Fund as if the compensatory award was for $20 million. And if a claimant and the members of their immediate family have claims for which their gross compensatory damages exceed an aggregated total of $35 million, based either on the same final judgment or separate final judgments, these claims will be reduced on a pro rata basis when the aggregated claims aren’t more than $35 million. Punitive damages awarded in a default judgment cannot be paid from the Fund. There are no guarantees of recovery.
Who is a “Member of their immediate family?”
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act sets the definition of who is considered a member of their immediate family in these cases. The Special Master in charge of the Fund has determined that member of their immediate families are a spouse, domestic partner, child, stepchild, parent, stepparent, brother, sister, half-brother, and half-sister of the claimant.
How Much of My Potential Award Will Go to Attorneys’ Fees and Costs?
According to section 404(f) of the legislation,
“No attorney shall charge, receive, or collect, and the Special Master shall not approve, any payment of fees and costs that in the aggregate exceeds 25 percent of any payment under this section.”
It is Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC’s policy that, if we are not able to recover an award on behalf of a claimant, then the claimant will owe nothing in attorneys’ fees or costs.