April 26, 2017
By: Michael Barasch, Managing Partner, Barasch McGarry Lawyer for the 9/11 Community
Throughout 2015, a union coalition fought for and achieved the permanent reauthorization and funding to secure Congressional passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. This critical federal law provides healthcare and $7.3 billion in compensation for those sickened in the aftermath of the attacks.
Background: The law was named in honor of my firm’s late client, NYPD Detective James Zadroga. He died in 2006 due to pulmonary fibrosis, a painful respiratory disease that the WTC Health Program doctors have linked to the World Trade Center toxic dust. Jimmy spent hundreds of hours at Ground Zero. An autopsy discovered ground glass, and dozens of other carcinogens in his lungs. Detective Zadroga’s death was the first, and certainly not the last, to officially be linked to exposure to the WTC toxins. As a result, a dozen cancers were added to the list of recognized WTC-related illnesses. Soon thereafter, dozens more were added as the statistical data was impossible to ignore. At last count, 68 cancers have been linked to the toxins and thousands of responders have been awarded over $2 billion by the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) for their pain and suffering and lost income.
The Zadroga Act originally passed in 2010. It promised health care monitoring and financial compensation to responders and contractors who contracted serious illnesses as a result of exposure to toxic dust. Recognizing the dire financial situation that has befallen thousands – construction workers, Con Ed, Verizon, transit workers, operating engineers, truckers, teachers and more – the important extension was authorized by Congress in December, 2015.
The window to amend this has now been reopened. Prior to the extension, cancer victims had to register with the VCF within 2 years of their cancer diagnosis. Now, the VCF will award compensation as long as the claim is brought within 2 years of the WTC Health Program certifying the disease. This has reopened the VCF to thousands of cancer victims whose claims had previously been barred.
Over recent months hundreds have come to Barasch McGarry to effectuate their application for the $7.4 billion Victims Compensation Fund. The process is lengthy and confusing, requiring evidence and expertise our firm has supplied to over 10,000 impacted by the 9-11 attacks.
The Victims Compensation Fund window is only open until 2019. More than 68 types of cancer and diseases have been recognized as being a consequence striking those who were there. I implore members of the labor and first responder community to protect yourself and your family without delay.
Our job is to help the 9-11 community gain their compensation. Contact us at 646-893-4556 or www.wtclawyers.com to begin the process today.