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Navy Begins to Compensate Jet Crash Victims

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on April 09, 2012 1:12 PM

The U.S. Navy on Monday began to compensate victims of Friday's Navy jet crash, and provided legal assistance to help guide residents through the claims process.

An F/A-18 fighter jet crashed into an apartment complex in Newport Beach, Va., just after noon Friday. Two crew members and five civilians on the ground were treated at hospitals and released. No one was killed, but five apartment buildings were damaged or destroyed.

People affected by the crash are eligible for an initial payment of at least $2,300, a Navy statement said, according to the local Daily Press.

And that's just the beginning.

Many apartment residents affected by Friday's Navy jet crash filled out forms to begin the claims process over the weekend, the Daily Press reports. Those who completed their claims can collect the initial $2,300 payout; the amount is more for residents with families.

The Navy is also opening a legal office near the crash site this week, to help answer questions from apartment residents, according to the Associated Press. News reports have yet to indicate under what authority the payouts are being made.

Claims for property damage and personal injury due to the negligence of a Navy employee generally fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act or the Military Claims Act, according to the Navy.

Under those laws, a victim generally has two years to file a claim with the Navy, which then has six months to act on the claim. It seems clear, however, that the Navy is motivated to streamline the process in Newport Beach.

In Friday's Navy jet crash, the military blamed a "catastrophic mechanical malfunction" during takeoff. An investigation is underway.

The $2,300 compensation checks are just the first step in addressing victims' needs after the jet crash, a Navy commander said Sunday, according to the Daily Press. "We owe it to everyone affected by Friday's accident to help them get their life back together," he said.

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