Fact sheet about the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
In an effort to address the physical symptoms and diseases suffered by many emergency responders as a result of exposure to toxic dust and debris at Ground Zero, in early 2011, President Obama signed into law the James Zadroga Act. The Zadroga Act reactivated the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund (“VCF”) that was in place between 2001 and 2004 and established a $4.3 billion fund to provide health monitoring, medical treatment and financial compensation for individuals who were injured as a result of the September 11th attacks.
Our work in this area is winding down and it has been a privilege to help the first responders.
CPR Lawyers Fight to Protect the Rights of 9/11 Emergency First Responders & Survivors
On September 11, 2001, a group of al-Qaida operatives carried out the single deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United States. All told over 3,000 people died as a result of the September 11, 2011 attacks, including hundreds of firefighters and rescue personnel. Although September 11th is remembered as an unspeakable national tragedy, it is also defined by the bravery and sacrifice of thousands of firefighters, law enforcement personnel, rescue workers and volunteers who risked their lives and health in responding to the attacks.
First 9/11 Responders Exposed to Dangerous Substances Deserve Compensation for Injuries
In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a large group of fire fighter and other emergency responders quickly arrived at Ground Zero in New York City. Over the ensuing weeks and months, additional workers and volunteers joined in the rescue and remediation effort. These individuals, particularly the earliest responders, were confronted with a chaotic scene of unprecedented destruction and hazardous environmental conditions. The collapse of the Twin Towers produced a thick cloud of dust comprising of gypsum from wallboard, plastic, cement, numerous chemicals, asbestos, glass, metals, jet fuel and other dangerous and volatile compounds. Due to the unexpected and emergency nature of this attack, many emergency responders were exposed to this toxic cocktail of dust and debris with little if any HAZMAT protection. Although exposure times varied, because many rescue workers spent weeks and months at Ground Zero with minimal protection, they encountered some of the highest levels of toxic exposure
Full Extent of 9/11 Hazardous Exposure Won’t Be Known for Many Years
Thanks to the dedication and determination of emergency responders and volunteers, the ruble, dust and smoldering fires of Ground Zero are now only memory. Since the 9/11 attacks, emergency responders and volunteers have begun to suffer from myriad diseases, disorders and physical symptoms as a result of their exposure to the toxic elements present at Ground Zero. These injuries have had a devastating toll on many responders and their families, in some cases causing death and disability.
A Step in the Right Direction
Although the Act was a step in the right direction for protecting the heroes who sacrificed so much in responding to the terrorist attacks, it only covered respiratory illness, mental health disorders, and physical injuries. The Act did not cover cancer because of a purported lack of scientific evidence connecting the disease to toxic Ground Zero material.
The Link to Cancer
In the past two years a number of medical studies have substantiated the link between dust and smoke inhaled at Ground Zero and instances of cancer amongst emergency responders, including fire fighters. As a result of these studies, in March 2012, the World Trade Center Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee recommended that certain types of cancer be covered under the VCF. This recommendation was adopted in 2012 by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (“NIOSH”) and as a result, nearly 50 types of cancer became eligible for coverage under the Act. These cancers include, among others, mesothelioma and cancers of the lungs, trachea, esophagus, stomach, colon, breast, thyroid, blood and kidney.
A Means of Compensation
The addition of these cancers as compensable injuries under the VCF is a significant development that all rescue and clean up workers who spent any time at Ground Zero need to be aware of. By including these cancers for coverage under the VCF, NIOSH has not only recognized the link between dust and debris at Ground Zero and various forms cancer, but provided a means of compensation for emergency responders who have or may suffer from these diseases. In this regard workers and citizens affected may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills and loss of income.
For two years following September 11, 2001 Chris Placitella dedicated his time to assisting families devastated in injury and mortality obtain compensation through the VCF. In addition to personally representing and counseling hundreds of families, Chris helped organize a national pro bono effort by lawyers from all over the country to assist 911 families. Chris helped organize and train the lawyers how to file claims and obtain the maximum benefits for their clients.
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Chris has been a dedicated resource for responders injured during the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks. In addition to providing counseling to people injured as a result of 911, Cohen, Placitella & Roth has been involved in representing families of first responders including firefighters and police officers who are wrongfully injured at work. Our work in this area is winding down and it has been a privilege to help the first responders.