Are You Eligible for Compensation As A Result Of 9/11 Related Injuries?
Contributor(s): Zainab Bhindarwala
9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
The effects of the aftermath of September 11th, 2001 are still being felt today. In addition to those who died in the attacks that day, thousands of people are now suffering and dying due to injuries and illnesses directly related to this tragic event.
In the last few years, many first responders and survivors of 9/11 have developed cancers and other fatal diseases as a result of their exposure to the toxic dust and debris from the collapse of the World Trade Center. While some diseases are not curable, many are treatable and the federal government has committed to helping those who were impacted with the cost of treatment by offering treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program, and compensation for those injuries by the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.
“Imagine that you are working downtown when you are suddenly evacuated. You find yourself enveloped by a cloud of dust from the fallen buildings. You soon develop asthma or, years later, you are diagnosed with aggressive cancer. This is the case for thousands of people who were present during the attacks and in the months to follow. “Alan Fuchsberg, Fuchsberg Law Firm
Shortly after the attacks, Congress created the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to aid those who were injured and the families of those who were killed. In 2011, President Obama signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 to reactivate the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”) and create the World Trade Center Health Program (WTC Health Program). The Zadroga Act was reauthorized in 2015, extending the Victim Compensation Fund until December 18, 2020, and the WTC Health Program until 2090. On July 29, 2019, H.R. 1327, Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act was signed into law, making it so the VCF will have enough funds to compensate all approved claims.
The VCF has helped compensate individuals whose health has been severely impacted by the effects of 9/11. For example, a ConEd worker who went downtown to help restore power to the area in the immediate weeks following the attacks, was diagnosed with liver cancer as a result of his exposure. Similarly, a manager of a Duane Reade on Broadway who was evacuated during the attacks developed an aggressive thyroid cancer due to being exposed to the dust cloud. Both of these individuals received substantial compensation with the help of The Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm.
“The fund is not limited to just those who were present during the attacks – anyone who was exposed to the aftermath of 9/11 may also be eligible for compensation like the electric engineer who selflessly volunteered at Ground Zero three times a week and was exposed to the dust, vapors, and noxious air for approximately three months. He was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and passed away within two years at only 38 years old. The Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm filed a wrongful death claim on behalf of his surviving spouse and young daughters.“Alan Fuchsberg, Fuchsberg Law Firm
What are the World Trade Center Health Program and the Victim Compensation Fund?
The WTC Health Program provides medical support for those diagnosed with certifiable conditions. The list of eligible conditions can be found on the WTC Health Program website. This list is extensive, although it is not exhaustive. As time has passed, more illnesses have been linked to exposure during and after 9/11. Diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis, which result from exposure to asbestos, typically do not manifest for twenty to fifty years – however, almost eighteen years after 9/11, there are already countless cases of 9/11 responders who have been diagnosed with and even died of these diseases due to over-exposure to asbestos when the towers collapsed. Some cancers are also linked to exposure to dust and debris in the aftermath of 9/11. The extensive list includes melanoma, thyroid cancer, prostate cancer, and blood cell cancers. Some of the most common conditions linked to 9/11 are asthma, lung cancer, and leukemia.
The Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)
The Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) awards monetary compensation to those who have suffered from injuries, illnesses, and/or death due to their presence during and after the attacks. Responders and survivors alike are eligible for this compensation. If you belong to one of the following categories, you may be eligible for compensation from the federal government:
- New York City Responder: emergency responders, workers or volunteers that provided rescue, recovery, demolition, debris removal, and related support.
- New York City Survivor: those present in the NYC disaster area (lower Manhattan, south of Canal Street/East Broadway/Clinton Street) as a result of work, school, residence, childcare, or adult daycare.
- Pentagon/Shanksville, Pennsylvania Responders: emergency responders, recovery and cleanup workers and volunteers directly involved in the response to the attacks on the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and Flight 93’s crash near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
If determined to be eligible, you can receive compensation for (a) loss of earnings and/or employer-provided benefits due to eligible illness or injury, (b) non-economic loss, or “pain and suffering,” and/or (c) past out-of-pocket medical expenses exceeding $5,000 for eligible conditions.
What Just Happened? – Passing H.R. 1327
In February 2019, the VCF announced that there was an insufficient amount of funding in order to compensate all current and projected claims. Thus, in order to ensure that every claim receives an award, the VCF had to lower the award amounts significantly. This deeply impacted those who are still suffering from 9/11 related illnesses as they could once again no longer afford treatment. However, thanks to the passing of H.R. 1327, those who received reduced awards will be reimbursed for the complete amount and future claims will be compensated in full.
“The entire VCF team is ready and eager to move forward into the next phase of this successful program with renewed energy and a reinvigorating clarity of purpose, and, as always, we remain dedicated to serving the needs of the 9/11 community.”Rupa Bhattacharyya, September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Special Master
I Think I Might Be Eligible – What Can I Do?
If you believe you are eligible for compensation due to a condition linked to 9/11, you can file a claim with the VCF. Under the current regulations, you must register with the VCF (deadlines vary) and then file the claim by October 1, 2090. You will need to provide documentation that meets the requirements of the fund including medical records, certification by the WTC Health Program for the injuries you are seeking compensation for, documentation proving your presence in the New York City Exposure Zone, Pentagon or Shanksville areas, as well as documentation regarding any economic loss sought.
We Can Help With Compensation For The Victims And Their Families.
In addition to fiercely advocating for H.R. 1327, the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Firm and Gregory Cannata & Associates have successfully submitted countless claims for responders and survivors affected by the aftermath of 9/11, leading to millions of dollars of compensation for the victims and their families. Over the years, the VCF has implemented numerous changes in authorization and its application process and our law firm have become highly skilled on how to navigate these changes effectively and successfully in order to maintain the best results for our clients.
Contact the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm for a free consultation to determine if you are eligible for compensation. If you qualify, we will assist you with filing a claim and submitting the correct paperwork. Contact us at 212-869-3500 fill out our contact form and we’ll get in touch with you right away.Alan Fuchsberg, Fuchsberg Law Firm
HELP WHEN THE UNIMAGINABLE HAPPENS
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.