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Committee proposes guidelines for distribution of Las Vegas shooting donations

Victims and survivors of the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting can expect to start receiving money raised on their behalf through the Las Vegas Victims Fund around March.

The Las Vegas Victims Fund committee released a draft of guidelines Thursday that lists an estimated timeline of events and that spells out who will be eligible for funds.

Families of those who were killed in the shooting and people who sustained permanent brain damage and/or permanent paralysis resulting in continuous home medical assistance would receive the highest level of payment out of the fund, the draft guidelines propose.

People who were physically injured and admitted to a hospital within 48 hours of the shooting for at least one night between Oct. 1 and Jan. 31, 2018 would receive the next level of funding, according to the draft.

People who sustained nonphysical injuries would not be eligible for funding in the current draft, due to the scope of the tragedy and the vast funding needs, said Scott Nielson, chairman of the Las Vegas Victims Fund committee.

“This is a draft that we’re putting out there so people will comment on it. We want to understand what people are thinking, and we want their comments and their feedback,” Nielson said.

The committee has scheduled two town hall meetings to receive public comment and discuss the terms and conditions of the draft protocol. The meetings are set for 10:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at the Clark County Government Center Commission Chambers.

People can also provide feedback and input relating to the protocol via email, to comments@lasvegasvictimsfund.org.

Limitations

“These funds are to be distributed to those who have been the most severely impacted by loss of life or physical injury,” the draft states. “It is not possible to include all of the individuals impacted by 1 October and the criteria set by the LVVF in this protocol is by no means intended to devalue or minimize the trauma that has been experienced by a great many.”

More than 22,000 people were at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1 when a gunman sprayed bullets onto the crowd, killing 58 concertgoers and injuring 546.

Nielson said the committee has not yet set a time for when the fund will stop collecting money.

“We want to encourage everyone to contribute as much as they can by the end of the year,” he said.

More than $15 million has been raised as of Thursday for victims’ families and survivors, lagging behind funds raised in other incidents with fewer people killed and injured.

After the Boston marathon attack in 2013 and the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, in 2016 additional funds were received after the initial distribution leading to a second round of disbursements.

“Should sufficient additional funds be received by the LVVF after the initial distribution, a supplemental distribution may be made to eligible claimants,” Nielson said.

He said the committee will determine what constitutes a “sufficient” amount of funds and what will be done with money received if it is deemed to be an amount not sufficient enough to go through another round of disbursements. The public is welcome to provide feedback on that point as well, he said.

“If we don’t have sufficient funds to make a second distribution, the remaining funds will be contributed for the benefit of the victims,” Nielson said.

The process

The committee will accept feedback on the draft protocol until Dec. 8, and will adopt a final protocol on Dec. 11, according to the estimated timeline of events.

When the final protocol is adopted, a “claim form” will become available for applicants to complete. Only one claim should be submitted by or on behalf of each victim, and the claim form will detail what type of supporting documentation will be required.

The draft protocol says that each decedent or victim for whom a claim is submitted will be validated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a victim of the Oct. 1 attack. Additionally, no money will be disbursed to anybody listed on the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list.

Jeff Dion, deputy executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, said families of the deceased should identify a family representative for their loved one’s estate, if they haven’t already done so. A family representative must be authorized to apply for compensation.

“If everybody agrees on what the distribution within that family is, then we’ll honor that. If people can’t agree on how that should be distributed, then we’re going to go ahead and send it to the probate court.”

The protocol

The protocol is available on the Las Vegas Victims Fund website (lasvegasvictimsfund.org), launched Thursday evening, and will be available on the National Compassion Fund website (nationalcompassionfund.org), and at Clark County’s website (clarkcountynv.gov), Nielson said.

Nielson said it took longer than expected to get the claims processing structure in place.

“The number of claims here is going to be unprecedented, unfortunately,” Nielson said.

The draft was based upon advice provided by national victim-compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg and others as a result of the work they had done in Boston after the marathon attack and in Orlando after the Pulse nightclub shooting, Nielson said.

“The committee was then able to consider and make the appropriate comments for Southern Nevada and the Oct. 1 event.”

Contact Nicole Raz at nraz@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512. Follow @JournalistNikki on Twitter.

Las Vegas Victims' Fund protocol by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

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