Immediately following the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, thousands of construction workers, cleanup crews, and rescue and recovery teams rushed to Ground Zero in an effort to save lives, remove debris, rebuild, and restore a sense of normalcy to the city.
Construction workers were among the first on the scene and the longest to remain on site. But the air they breathed, for months on end, was filled with toxic and carcinogenic substances, including asbestos, lead, chromium, benzene, and PCBs. As a result, countless construction workers have been diagnosed with cancers, respiratory illnesses, and other serious medical problems related to toxic dust exposure on and after 9/11.
VCF Compensation and WTCHP Medical Care Available to NYC Construction Workers
Named for James Zadroga, the first NYPD officer to die of a 9/11-related illness, the Zadroga Act was passed in 2010, resulting in the creation of two important programs:
- The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) certifies medical conditions eligible for coverage and provides medical treatment and health monitoring to 9/11 survivors and responders.
- The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) provides financial compensation to 9/11 survivors and responders, and the families of the deceased from a WTCHP-certified illness or injury.
Construction workers who worked or volunteered at Ground Zero between September 11th, 2001 and May 30th, 2002, and have been diagnosed with a 9/11 medical condition may be able to obtain compensation from the VCF and medical treatment from the WTCHP.
NYC Construction Workers With 9/11 Related Illnesses Can Receive Compensation & Care
The list of illnesses and injuries certified by the WTCHP is extensive. Even construction workers suffering from a 9/11 medical condition that is not explicitly certified by the WTCHP may be eligible if their illness or injury is associated with a qualifying condition. Although WTCHP-certified conditions range from tendinitis to childhood cancers, certain illnesses and injuries are particularly common. Most WTCHP conditions fall under one of the categories below:
- Acute traumatic injuries, such as bone fractures and injuries to the eyes and brain;
- Aerodigestive disorders, such as asthma and GERD;
- Cancers (68 in total), including brain, bone, and blood cancers, reproductive cancers, and Mesothelioma; and
- Mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
The list above is not exhaustive. Here is the complete list of WTCHP-certified health conditions and injuries. Contact Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP today for more information.
Construction Workers Present In The 9/11 Exposure Zone
The area now known as the 9/11 Exposure Zone covers an approximately 1.5-mile radius around Ground Zero. It encompasses all of lower Manhattan south of Canal Street from the Hudson River to the intersection of Canal Street and East Broadway, north on East Broadway to Clinton Street, and east on Clinton Street to the East River.
Construction workers must show that they worked within this Exposure Zone between the qualifying dates for at least four hours, or for any period of time if they worked directly in the toxic dust cloud.
How To Apply For VCF Compensation or WTCHP Medical Care
Anyone who worked or volunteered in 9/11 construction, restoration, cleanup, or debris removal efforts, and is suffering from a WTCHP-certified illness, should apply for medical treatment and financial compensation. To be approved for these benefits, applicants must provide Proof of Presence documentation, showing their presence in the designated area during the qualifying timeframe. This documentation may include but is not limited to:
- Work orders
- Worker injury reports
- Official personnel roster
- Letter from employer or former employer
- Signed affidavit
- Other work documentation
Don’t Miss the Registration Deadline
Affected construction workers should register with the VCF by their registration deadline. This is not the same as filing a claim. Even construction workers not currently suffering from a 9/11 illness or injury should register, thus preserving their right to file a future claim. The registration deadline differs from person to person, based on individual circumstances. All claims registered with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund by July 29th, 2021 are considered timely, regardless of the date of diagnosis. Those who do not register by July 29th, 2021 may still register, so long as it is within two years from the date that they learned their condition was 9/11-related. A VCF attorney can help construction workers determine eligibility, register with the VCF, and file a claim if they suffer from a 9/11 medical condition.
In addition to benefits available through the WTCHP and VCF, 9/11 construction workers and volunteers can register with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. Doing so will protect their right to file for workers’ comp at a future date if necessary. Registration must be completed by September 11th, 2022 to preserve this right.
Contact Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP Today
At Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP, our 9/11 fund lawyers have successfully represented countless construction workers present in the Exposure Zone between September 11th, 2001 and May 30th, 2002, making the strongest case possible so that victims have access to the maximum compensation. Even minor application errors can result in delayed, reduced, or denied benefits and compensation. As such, it is in every responder’s best interest to seek skilled legal counsel before applying for WTCHP and VCF benefits. We consistently submit medically-supported, optional impact statements to the VCF to maximize each claim. Call Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP today at 212-983-3000 for a free and confidential consultation.