PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – Rhode Island’s governor has signed into law a bill inspired by a resident injured in the Boston Marathon bombings who had trouble applying for the state’s crime victim compensation fund because the attack happened in Massachusetts.
The state will now be able to compensate Rhode Island residents injured in attacks outside the state. Newport resident Heather Abbott, who lost part of her leg in the 2013 bombings, joined Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo for a signing ceremony Tuesday.
Abbott said she was disappointed when the state denied her claim and she had to work through appeals as she was recovering from her injury and trying to pay for prosthetics.
“It was another thing to do when you’re trying to learn how to walk, and you’re on medication, adjusting to getting blown up by a bomb,” she said.
The state’s fund assists Rhode Island residents and their families if they are victims of violent crime, covering up to $25,000 for medical bills, loss of earnings or other costs. The state paid 603 claims last year totaling about $1.3 million. The fund is mostly for victims of Rhode Island crimes, but the existing law included a provision assisting victims of attacks abroad — just not in other U.S. states.
General Treasurer Seth Magaziner administers the fund and said the new law clarifies conflicting language that had caused Abbott’s original claim to be denied.
“It’s one of those bills that once it’s signed, we’re glad it’s there, but we hope we won’t have to use it again,” he said.
Abbott was watching the April 2013 marathon when she was thrown through the entrance of a restaurant by the force of the second explosion. Her left leg was amputated in a hospital. She formed a nonprofit foundation last year to help other amputees.
Raimondo, who was state treasurer at the time of Abbott’s original claim, called her “a woman of remarkable bravery.”
“It’s frankly the least we can do,” Raimondo said before signing the law. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Raimondo also signed another bill Tuesday to increase the compensation a crime victim or victim’s family can get to up to $5,000 for relocation costs or up to $10,000 for burial costs. Some victims of domestic violence use the money to get out of an abusive relationship and move to a new place.
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