9/11 Terrorist Attacks
On September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists tied to al-Qaeda, the Islamic extremist group, hijacked four airliners, carrying out multiple suicide attacks against United States targets. Two of these jets were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, ultimately collapsing both massive skyscrapers.
A third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
More than 3,000 people were killed during the terrorist attacks, including more than 400 police officers and firefighters. More than 10,000 people were also injured that day.
The terrorist attacks exposed some 500,000 individuals—workers, residents, and rescue and recovery workers—to a toxic cloud of dust, fumes, chemicals, carcinogens, and heavy metals that have led to a growing list of medical conditions and injuries, including cancers, respiratory diseases, aerodigestive disorders, and other illnesses.
The Original Zadroga Act
Congress passed the original Zadroga Act in December 2010 following a great deal of political squabbling. The Act reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for five years to provide payment for job and economic losses for first responders, those trapped in the buildings, and local residents, who suffered illness or injuries associated with the plume of toxins the remained after Manhattan’s Twin Towers fell.
At the time, various cancers were left off the list of covered illnesses over a supposed lack of scientific evidence that certain diseases were linked to the toxic cloud.
The Reauthorized Zadroga Act
An $8.1 billion measure renewed the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on December 18, 2015. The James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was reauthorized to provide adequate funding and benefits to care for the first responders, rescue workers, residents, area workers, and other survivors of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks for their lifetimes.
Congressional representatives included an $8.1 billion measure to renew the Zadroga Act in the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package that was finalized and released in mid-December 2015. This measure extends the original Zadroga Act’s programs.
Now, the expired World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program will continue to provide medical treatment and monitoring and has been extended for another 75 years to 2090 with $3.5 billion in funding to monitor and care for 73,000 responders and survivors.
The Victims Compensation Fund (VCF), which was set to expire on October 1, 2016 was extended for another five years to 2021 with $4.6 billion in funding.
Significant injury research associated with the 9/11 attacks reveals the extensive nature of medical conditions and injuries that have impacted New York Police Department (NYPD), the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), emergency medical services (EMS) responders, other rescue and recovery workers and volunteers, residents, and area workers.
Updates to the programs are periodically made as new disorders are found to be associated with the toxic plume the followed the collapse of the Twin Towers that hovered over lower Manhattan.
Researchers found that the toxic cloud contained heavy metals; partially combusted and/or pulverized cement, jet fuel, wood, and paper; pulverized construction materials, including asbestos and lead, that also included glass, silica, fiberglass, and concrete; complex organic and other chemicals; and other hazardous and carcinogenic materials.
As of July 2017, exposure to the debris was associated with 90 chronic and debilitating health problems, including over 60 types of cancer. Many responders and survivors have died and that number is expected to increase and likely be greater than the number of people who died on the day of the attack.
The Zadroga Act Programs
The WTC Health Program and the VCF are different programs. Each program requires separate registration, and enrollment in the WTC Health Program does not automatically register an individual into the VCF. For those individuals being treated by, or monitored through, the WTC Health Program, eligibility for compensation from the VCF is not automatic.
The WTC Health Program provides medical monitoring and treatment for physical injuries and conditions that are due to 9/11 exposure at the WTC site in New York City, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania, as well as responders and survivors who were in the New York City disaster area.
The James Zadroga Bill provides for compensation from the September 11 Fund for individuals who meet its requirements for location and time period and does not distinguish among those individuals who worked in rescue, recovery, or cleanup and those who lived or worked in the immediate vicinity.
The program does not cover every illness or injury resulting from the 9/11 attacks, but does cover 68 specific types of WTC-related cancers and approximately 30 other health conditions, including specific respiratory and aerodigestive disorders. Updates are periodically being made for the benefit of individuals not yet covered under the WTC Health Program.
The VCF provides compensation due to losses resulting from physical injuries and conditions associated with exposure to the terrorist attacks and “was created to provide compensation for any individual (or a personal representative of a deceased individual) who suffered physical harm or was killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001 or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath of those crashes. The original VCF operated from 2001-2004.”
The fund has recently streamlined and simplified its claim form and other documents needed to process a claim, as well as how many documents are needed to process a claim. The VCF also now provides a Document Checklist to help identify specific, required supporting documentation needed to file a claim and also maintains a Navigation Tip Sheet online that provides information as to how to navigate the new online claim system.
Questions About Zadroga Act
If you or someone you know was injured or died due to injuries allegedly suffered as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the attorneys at Parker Waichman, who have long fought for the heroes and survivors of the attacks, promise to continue their efforts to protect those who were exposed to Ground Zero’s toxic cloud and the psychological of the attacks, and ensure that all the deserved Zadroga Act compensation is received.
To determine your eligibility for benefits, the illnesses covered, and filing a claim, please contact our experienced team of Zadroga Act attorneys.
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