Illnesses Caused by World Trade Center Debris: Filing Deadline Update
Contributor(s): Shannon Montgomery, Esq.
Following the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) was created to provide compensation for individuals who suffered physical harm or were killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001. The original fund operated from 2001 through 2004 and awarded over $7 Billion in compensation to claimants.
In 2011, the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act was signed into law by President Obama, reopening the VCF in order to provide compensation for individuals who suffered injuries, including respiratory injuries and cancer, or passed away as a result of these injuries, due to exposure to toxic dust and debris following 9/11, or from the debris removal efforts that took place after the attacks.
Deadlines were put in place according to the regulations implemented by the Special Master in charge of the VCF, which required claimants to submit a registration form. A registration requires claimants to provide contact information for the claimant and answer preliminary questions, after which a claim number is assigned by the VCF. Initially, deadlines imposed by the VCF regarding registration required claimants to register within two years of October 3, 2011, or within two (2) years of the date of diagnosis or date of death for deceased claimants. Registering a claim preserves your right to file a claim in the future, a full claim submission is required in order to be found eligible and received compensation by the fund.
The VCF was previously scheduled to stop accepting claims and close in December 2020. However, on July 29, 2019, President Trump signed into law H.R. 1327, The Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. This extended the VCF’s claim filing deadline from December 18, 2020, to October 1, 2090, and appropriates such funds as may be necessary to pay all approved claims.
The VCF has just announced a policy change, wherein they will consider all claims timely if registered within two (2) years of July 29, 2019, the date the VCF became permanent. This change and newly revised policy allow claims to now be registered for claimants who may have missed prior deadlines for various reasons. The VCF has stated that the policy change is intended to address the concerns about claimants who did not know that the VCF existed or was open to them, did not know that their condition (or the death of their loved one) was related to 9/11 exposure, or did not realize that they were eligible to file a VCF claim or that the VCF would be in place beyond the previous 2020 end date.
The policy has been applied retroactively, therefore as of December 6, 2019, every claim currently on file is timely, and every future claim that is filed prior to July 29, 2021, will be timely. This creates an opportunity for all possible claimants to register and preserve their rights to file a claim within this twenty-month window, opening the VCF up to the most potential claims since it was first reopened in 2011.
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Our attorneys at the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Firm have a breadth of experience in claims involving civil rights violations, medical malpractice, and personal injury. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact us today to discuss your legal options. Let our family help yours.