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9/11 Zadroga Reauthorization Act Gives Renewed Hope to Terror Attacks Victims

Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm based in New York, is currently assisting clients and their families who qualify for assistance.


September 11, 2001, is a day that is eternally etched in the minds and hearts of those people who lived through those horrible events. The 9/11 terrorists took to the skies as passengers with the intent to murder thousands of people that day. By flying commercial airliners into our nation’s most iconic buildings like the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and either the Capital or the White House, the terrorists wanted to send a message that our country was the devil incarnate.

It is doubtless the cowardly attackers knew that hijacking commercial jet planes loaded with highly combustible fuel would severely damage the buildings into which they were flown and incinerate everything in its path. However, we will never know whether the terrorists could have imagined the north and south towers of the World Trade Center – together recognized as an iconic symbol of free capitalist markets, economic expansion, and personal liberty – would crumble from the resulting inferno caused by the plane crashes.

Some people would never have the chance to free themselves from the inferno. The raging fires, as well as the collapsed elevators and staircases, prevented hundreds of people from fleeing. The people who were located below the impact zones were given a chance at survival.

For anyone old enough to recall that terrifying day, we can remember vividly watching in utter shock, disbelief, and horror at the tragedy that unfolded before our very eyes. We thought the sky was falling and the world was ending as we heard the terrifying news that an airplane crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. and a fourth plane burst into a fireball after crashing in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The unimaginable was still to come.

The world watched as the north and south towers twisted and fell into a pile of dust, debris, and rubble. The people who were capable of fleeing the towers before they collapsed had little time to rest after extricating themselves from the burning buildings. As the 100-plus story buildings caved in, the people below once again had to run out of fear of being crushed by the plummeting debris. The cloud of dust filled with pulverized glass, steel, concrete, and asbestos blanketed lower Manhattan within minutes of when the Towers fell. The white-gray cloud sped between and around buildings that stood nearby and followed the path of least resistance across the river and into Brooklyn.

Selfless firefighters, police officers, port authority officers, construction workers, ironworkers, and others flocked to the pile of rubble which later becomes known respectfully as “Ground Zero.” It was the most massive crime scene anyone could have imagined. Despite the majestic towers being reduced to a scrap heap of their parts, those workers toiled mightily to free survivors and recover those who lost their lives. Little did they know that they were in danger of becoming victims of the terror attacks. So too were the people who escaped from the collapses or lived in the area blanketed by the dust cloud.

In all, 3,000 people died on September 11. The dead were aboard the planes, in the Twin Towers, or in the Pentagon. Approximately 400 of those who were killed were first responders from New York Fire, Police, and the New York/New Jersey Port Authority who ran into the buildings to help those who could not help themselves. An additional 10,000 people were injured.

The death toll did not stop there. Approximately half a million people had been exposed to life-threatening diseases due to exposure to asbestos which was used as a fire suppressant in the World Trade Towers. People who were covered with the dust at Ground Zero itself or lived worked or went to school in the area were also exposed to these lethal contaminants. Hundreds of people have fallen ill and succumbed to diseases caused by the World Trade Center collapse and fallout.

The U.S. legislature enacted laws to provide medical care for people who were affected by the World Trade Center collapse. The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, commonly referred to as the Zadroga Act, gave people hope that the medical conditions from which they suffered as a result of exposure to the carcinogens, toxins, heavy metals, and other materials scattered by the building collapse would be treated. Exposure to the substances caused asbestosis, cancers, digestive disorders, and other chronic or terminal diseases.

Parker Waichman LLP is welcoming victims of 9/11 who have fallen ill because of exposure to toxins when the Towers fell. Although we are a national law firm, we are based in New York. Our family and friends have suffered from the fallout that blanketed lower Manhattan, all the way up to Mid-Town Manhattan, and into Brooklyn. We experienced the tragedy first hand, and therefore we can empathize with the pain, suffering, and trepidation for uncertain future victims of the fallout exposure are experiencing. Contact our firm today for assistance with applying for benefits under the Zadroga Act now that Congress has reauthorized the benefits available to victims of that dreadful day.

Why the Law is Called the Zadroga Act

Congress named the legislation the “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act” in honor of a selfless New York Police Officer James Zadroga. James Zadroga joined the NYPD in 1992 and 1999 attained the rank of detective. Det. Zadroga was a dedicated policeman. He received 31 medals of various degrees of distinction during his brief career.

Det. Zadroga was headed home after working the night shift when he learned of the terror attacks that struck the buildings. Instead of going home to his family, as he deserved to after working hard on his regularly scheduled tour of duty, he returned to render aid at the World Trade Center. Det. Zadroga toiled for 450 hours at Ground Zero helping to locate survivors and recover the bodies of those who perished.

After being relieved from his post at Ground Zero, Det. Zadroga began to experience respiratory problems. He developed a persistent cough experienced by others who worked at Ground Zero. That cough, for better or worse, became known as the “World Trade Center Cough.” The cough confounded doctors and made it very difficult, if not impossible to perform his job as a detective for the New York City Police Department. Consequently, in 2002, Det. Zadroga took a leave of absence from his beloved department.

Soon, one of the many heroes from 9/11 became a forgotten man. According to Biography.com, Det. Zadroga expressed dismay over how the NYPD treated him and the other survivors. Det. Zadroga related his opinion that people were all too willing to remember the fallen but were quick to forget those who made it but have fallen ill due to a sickness developed from working at Ground Zero.

After Det. Zadroga took his leave of absence from NYPD his breathing became so labored that he required the assistance of oxygen. He moved his family, consisting of his wife and daughter, to Florida where he hoped that the tropical air would ease the symptoms he felt. Unfortunately, he experienced little relief. He made a claim for funds from the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund and received a settlement. Doctors made findings that Det. Zadroga suffered acute silicosis, more widely known as black lung disease, after examining him as a prerequisite before he received compensation.

James Zadroga died on January 5, 2006. He was also 34 years old. The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy declared that his death was related to exposure to toxins at Ground Zero. Despite the New York City medical examiner trying to disparage the fallen hero and obfuscate the truth, another physician made findings consistent with the first medical examiner’s opinion.

New York Governor George Pataki introduced a bill to the New York legislature designed to help people in the position in which Det. Zadroga and his family found themselves. Gov. Pataki introduced the Zadroga Act to increase aid to first responders who fell ill because of exposure to harmful vapors and other hazards at Ground Zero. The Zadroga Act bill passed by the New York legislature in 2006. U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney introduced federal legislation a year after to Congress. The road to winning approval of the Congress was not easy. The legislation did not pass until 2011. The original bill had a “sunset provision” and would expire in 2015. After another long battle, and help from public figures, Congress reauthorized the Zadroga Act.

The Initial Zadroga Act

The U.S. Congress enacted the Zadroga Act in 2010. Enactment of the law took much political wrangling. After much debate and deal-making, Congress passed the law. The purpose of the Zadroga Act was to re-open the “September 11Victims Compensation Fund.” Congress intended that the initial version of the Zadroga Act should last for five years. Congress designated the fund to compensate victims of 9/11 who were first responders, people trapped inside of the World Trade Center buildings, as well as the residents, workers, and school children who were near the collapse. Congress earmarked the fund’s resources to alleviate those affected and were caught in the zone of the dust cloud for financial losses and healthcare for diseases and illnesses related to or caused by the toxins in the dust cloud.

Unfortunately, Congress omitted several diseases and illnesses caused by toxins in the dust cloud. The omissions were not due to inadvertence on behalf of Congress. Instead, physicians, researchers, and scientists had not discovered all of the potential sicknesses exposure to the dust cloud particles might cause.

In 2015, Congress Reauthorized the Zadroga Act

President Obama signed the Zadroga Act bill into law on December 18, 2015. The bill authorized $8.1 billion for lifetime financial support and healthcare for first responders, people who lived and worked within the zone of contamination, and those who survived the collapse of the north and south Towers. The law extended the benefits conferred by the first version of the Zadroga Act.

The legislation that renewed funding for those who would have qualified for funds under the Zadroga Act was a $1.1 trillion piece of legislation. The two components of the Zadroga Act, namely the World Trade Center Health Program and the Victims’ Compensation Fund, will continue to enlist people who are only now falling ill from diseases suspected to be from exposure to the plume of toxins on 9/11 and the days that followed.

Action on behalf of Congress was desperately needed. Physicians and researchers are finally making strides toward linking all of the possible diseases that a person exposed to the harmful smoke and dust to the events and fallout from 9/11. Healthcare professionals have connected numerous disorders of the respiratory, digestive, and glandular systems, including cancers, as a result of the contaminants that spread over New York on September 11, 2001.

In July of 2017, researchers concluded that exposure caused 90 diseases. Among the 90 diseases, 60 of them are forms of cancer. Many first responders, people who lived through the attack and collapse, as well as neighbors working, living, and attending school in the vicinity, have fallen ill or perished from diseases connected to 9/11. Regrettably, many more people will fall victim to similar illnesses as time progress. Several types of cancers and other debilitating illnesses have a lengthy incubation period. That is why extending the Zadroga Act programs was vitally important.

Given the substances that scientists determined comprised the cloud of dust from the crumbled buildings, it is no surprise that so many people who were in some way connected with the events of September 11, 2001, have eventually gotten sick. Analysis of the dust and debris field by scientists revealed that harmful and potentially lethal substances like heavy metals (mercury and lead for example), disintegrated wood, paper, concrete, steel, other construction materials, glass, silica, fiberglass, concrete, and jet fuel flew into the air when the buildings collapsed. Other harmful compounds like asbestos escaped into the air as well. Furthermore, there were significant fires that burned in the rubble. The smoke from the fires alone was harmful and potentially carcinogenic.

A Closer Look at the Zadroga Act Programs

At the outset, it is crucial to note that the WTC Healthcare Program and the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund are distinct entities. Enrollment in one program does not mean you have successfully enrolled in the other. Therefore, if you think you qualify for either or both programs, then you must apply for them separately. Parker Waichman’s 9/11 attorneys are more than happy to assist you with preparing the appropriate forms and submitting the supporting documentation that the programs require.

The WTC Health Program

The WTC Health Program was designed to assist first responders from the New York City Fire Department, New York City Police Departments, New York City Emergency Medical Services Department, people who were in the area of the disaster site, and who worked at Ground Zero during recovery and cleanup efforts. It must also be mentioned that the fund includes first responders and others involved with the rescue, cleanup, and relief efforts at the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA.

The WTC Health Program does not cover every illness or injury traceable to 9/11. Some injuries and illnesses, as described above, have not been linked to the exposure to the devastation created by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That might change in the future as physicians run more tests and learn more about possible effects exposure to all of those contaminants might have on an individual. To be sure, the fund administrators include over 60 forms of cancer and almost 40 additional health complications created by exposure to toxins. Updates to the list of covered illnesses frequently occur so that the fund can provide benefits to all who need it or will need it in the future.

The WTC Health Program does not provide compensation for economic and non-economic losses. Instead, the WTC Health Program provides medical services to those who qualify. Notwithstanding, this organization can offer you or your loved one with additional coverage and care for your 9/11-related disease and can ease the financial burden you or your family suffered and continues to suffer because of the lasting effects of the 9/11 terror attacks.

The Victim Compensation Fund has a separate function than that the WTC Health Program. A person who suffered a covered injury from 9/11 or the family of a deceased family member who suffered a covered injury may make a claim for compensation under the Victim Compensation Fund. People who were injured, sickened or the families of those who died on 9/11 or from a resultant disease may qualify for the compensation the fund offers. The fund ran initially from 2001 to 2004 but reopened with the passage of the initial Zadroga Act so that people who started to develop illnesses caused by exposure to the harmful vapors, toxins, and contaminants from the dust cloud and Ground Zero could receive compensations.

The latest version of the Victims’ Compensation Fund enacted when the Zadroga Reauthorization Act passed in 2015 created two groups of people who were eligible for compensation. The legislation entitled those categories Group A and Group B. The Zadroga Reauthorization Act expanded specific coverage while reducing others. The fund administrator, called a Special Master, issued orders to streamline the application and appeals process. The Special Master acts as a gatekeeper and a judge to a certain extent. The Special Master does not review every application personally. However, a fund employee personally reviews each application to ensure that every person who is eligible for compensation receives their due.

A Parker Waichman LLP 9/11 Compensation Lawyer Can Help You With Your Claim

The Zadroga Act allows victims to have the representation of their choice. They may even change representatives if they are displeased with their current counsel. Of course, the choice of counsel is very personal and very important. The Zadroga Reauthorization Act attorneys from Parker Waichman LLP have assisted numerous clients with their Zadroga Act applications. Whether you are applying for WTC Health Program benefits, Victim Compensation Fund benefits, or both, we will be happy to help you.

If you are in the position of applying for benefits from these programs, we recognize that you are having a challenging time right now. Rest assured that our focus will be on you, your recovery, and your family as you combat the health problems no one could have imagined would rear their heads so long after that fateful day.

Time Limitations on Applications for Zadroga Act Benefits

Each fund has a different time limit to when you can apply for benefits and coverage. Typically, the date is two years from the date of the diagnosis. Any claim barred due to time limits may be the subject of an appeal because new diseases and illnesses are linked to 9/11 fallout often.

Parker Waichman’s Brain Injury Attorneys will make sure that they protect your rights by filing your claim prior to the applicable statute of limitations runs out.

Why Choose Parker Waichman LLP?

Our lawyers are dedicated to superior advocacy, and we are proud to have received honors from the legal community and beyond, including:

  • An AVVO rating of 9.8 (out of 10).
  • Martindale-Hubbell’s Top “Preeminent Lawyers” AV peer review rating.
  • LawDragon’s Highest Ranking of “5 Dragons.”
  • Listing in Best Lawyers Publication

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 LLP, 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.

For More Information Regarding Your Zadroga Act Claim

To determine your eligibility for benefits, the illnesses covered, and filing a claim, please contact our experienced team of Zadroga Act attorney.

We invite you to call Parker Waichman LLP today at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) or go online and fill out our client contact form so we can schedule a convenient time to meet with you and your family. At our first meeting, our caring attorneys will discuss your health concerns. Then, we promise to walk with you every step of the way as we fight for your rights provided by the Zadroga Reauthorization Act.

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