In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the plane crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Congress enacted the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (ATSSA; P.L. 107-42) on September 22, 2001. A key component was Title IV; the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF1), used to provide cash benefits to victims of the attack. VCF 1 closed in 2004 and was replaced by the Zadroga Act of 2011, and reauthorized in 2015. In February 2019, it was determined that there was insufficient funding to pay pending and projected claims.
In July 2010, the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund” was enacted, ensuring full and permanent VCF funding to provide financial relief to victims of the 9/11 attacks.
While there is no requirement to have an attorney to file a VCF claim for compensation, there are hundreds of reasons why having a knowledgeable 9/11 lawyer can help victims more easily navigate the VCF claims system to ensure the best possible financial award.
Who can file with the VCF?
In addition to members of the fire department (NYFD), the police (NYPD) and other first responders, those who may be able to file a VCF claim for compensation also includes:
- A survivor of the attack who suffered physical injuries
- A victim of a certified 9/11-related illness
- Cleanup volunteers
- Transit, utility, and sanitation department employees
- Residents of the area south of Canal Street
- Employees of WTC-area businesses
- Visitors in the area at the time of the terrorist attacks
- Certain family members
- The personal representative of someone who died in or as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center
However, to establish eligibility, a claimant must show:
In order to apply for VCF financial benefits, claimants must first get you registered with the WTC Health Program to receive certification of a qualifying condition.
In the case of a deceased victim, personal representatives need to provide original or certified copies of documents such as death certificates and Letters of Administration (or other appointment document) issued by the court and certified by a Clerk of the Court.
How a skilled 9/11 attorney can help you with your claim
In addition to the documentation required, there are timelines to be met and additional steps that have to be addressed in order to be successful. In 2020 the VCF received nearly 7,500 claims, with more than 9,000 still pending eligibility. An attorney who has worked with 9/11 victims understands that it is critical to help the client understand the VCF claims system. Moreover, an experienced 9/11 lawyer knows what to look for, where to find it, and how to avoid potential issues along the way. Whether a victim or a family member, a dedicated Weisfuse & Weisfuse LLP attorney is there to ensure a smooth process and help eligible claimants get full and fair compensation.
Hiring the right lawyer can help simplify the VCF claims process
For those victims and survivors of the attack on the WTC, as well as personal representatives of deceased victims, the claims procedures may feel daunting. We help take the confusion out of the process and move claims through as quickly as possible—allowing those who are dealing with a 9/11-related illness or the death of a family member caused by a long-term 9/11 medical condition to move forward with greater peace of mind.
To help ensure a successful claim, the attorney makes sure it is accurate, complete, and timely, by:
- Getting the claimant registered: It’s important to note that the registration deadline is not the same as the deadline to file a claim. The deadline for registering was July 29, 2021, however, as stated by the VCF, “the Registration Deadline is not the same for everyone. The Registration Deadline is determined according to claim type, and varies based on individual circumstances.”
- Note well: If not registered by July 29, 2021, the only claims that will be considered valid are the one registered within two years of the certification of a 9/11-related illness or the date of death. An experienced attorney will register claimants immediately to help ensure that valid claims do not risk getting denied.
- Helping claimants obtain vital documents to prove presence in the Exposure Zone: As time has passed, it can be harder to obtain employment records, proof of residence (such as rent or mortgage receipts, utility bills, etc.) or “contemporaneous document” that show a victim’s presence at the site, medical bills, or school attendance records.
- Assistance with documentation related to non-economic losses: While they are not required, they are valuable in making a successful claim for pain and suffering.
Hiring a dedicated 9/11 lawyer can help maximize compensation
By having a thorough understanding of the VCF claims system and having successfully helped claimants, our attorneys bring dedication and aggressive representation to all claimants, with the goal of getting them the best possible compensation. In addition to ensuring complete, accurate documentation that includes accompanying evidence, and timely filing, we have successfully appealed denied claims. We pursue every avenue of compensation, because no victim of 9/11 should be victimized again because of a missed requirement or deadline.
The Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP advantage
Our promise to all 9/11 clients is that we put their needs first; that we are committed to doing all we can to get them the best possible compensation, including offering an optional impact statement; and that we do it with compassion, dedication, and a thorough knowledge of what needs to be done. We take the burden of dealing with a complex system off our client’s shoulders and are always honest about the merits of their case. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your needs, please call us at (212) 983-3000 or contact us online.