a closer look at USVSST eligibility_

A Closer Look at USVSST Fund Eligibility

Officials recently unveiled plans for yet another round of U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund payments. At roughly the same time, Congress amended the USVSST’s eligibility requirements. So, if you have a final judgement against a country which sponsored terrorism, or if you, or a loved one was a Tehran Embassy hostage anytime between November 1979 and January 1981, you might be eligible for a share of this money.


Meeting the qualifications usually ensures you get at least some compensation. How much is up to the fund administrator. An experienced attorney knows how to sway fund administrators and convince them to award maximum compensation. Without representation, you might end up walking away with less than what you deserve.


Final Judgement


Victims need compensation to carry on with their lives. Perhaps more importantly, they need the justice and closure can come from a court system ruling in their favor. The most common way to be eligible for compensation from the USVSST Fund is to win a case in American federal court. You can’t sue a terrorist organization. The terrorists wouldn’t show up, and if the court rules in your favor they wouldn’t pay. But you can sometimes sue a foreign government that directly or indirectly supported them.


If you file a claim against a foreign country which sponsored international terrorism, there are significant logistical and procedural hurdles. Unfortunately, even if victims clear these hurdles and win their cases, the “final judgment” is just step one. They may still not receive compensation from the foreign government directly.


When you sue someone else in your state, logistical rules (like personally serving documents on defendants) are usually manageable. It gets more complicated when the defendant is overseas. The situation is almost hopelessly complicated when the defendant is a foreign government that is determined to deny all involvement in the terrorist incident in question.


Next, there are procedural hurdles. In domestic claims, those might just be a speed bump. But in this context, these issues can derail your claim completely. American courts usually don’t have jurisdiction over foreign governments. There are exceptions, like if the suit is about international terrorist activity that caused an injury in the United States. The victim must win the argument over sovereign immunity or they lose at the start.


Assuming victims get over these hurdles, they must still prove that the country was intimately involved in the attack. Such evidence is difficult to obtain, since if the foreign government was involved in terrorism it probably kept it secret. This is not an easy lawsuit to win.


After all this, the court ruling is just a piece of paper. It is hard to make a foreign government compensate the victim just because an American court says they owe it.


This is where the USVSST Fund comes in. It gives victims an alternative revenue source. The fund managers decide how much to give you, so it can help to have a lawyer make your case.


Tehran Embassy Hostages


Most of us are probably somewhat familiar with this saga. In 1979, anti-American Islamic extremists overthrew Mohammad Reza Shah and seized the American embassy in the capital city of Tehran. The Iranians finally freed these hostages after 444 days of captivity.


Not everyone in the embassy was a captive for the entire time. In fact, rather early in the crisis, the Iranians released many captives, mostly women. If you or a family member was held inside the embassy compound at all, you may be entitled to compensation of up to $10,000 per day. To be eligible, you may need to have been a member of the class in a particular class action where hostages and their families sued Iran, or you might need to have a new claim that you couldn’t have filed before. Talk to a lawyer to find out whether you are eligible.


Count on Dedicated Attorneys


State-sponsored terrorism victims could be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced lawyer, contact the Cameron Firm, P.C. at 800-861-7262 or fill out the contact box to your right.


This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.