A  large number of construction workers and first responders (over 10,000) were part of the recently settled 9/11 World Trade Center lawsuits against the City of New York and others for injuries suffered in the massive clean-up and recovery efforts related to their work on the Ground Zero site or what has been called “the pile.”  The Daily News and the New York Post have reported a number of controversial issues related to these 9/11 World Trade Center lawsuits, including some attorneys trying to pass along to their clients over $6,000,000.00 in interest on the money borrowed by the law firms. A federal Judge denied this unusual request. 

Putting aside those problems involving the settled lawsuit, one a important big question remains: What attorney’s fee amount can be properly charged by a lawyer representing a 9/11 first responder, construction worker or clean-up worker who also now wants to file a claim under the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund?   

The answer to this important question can be found in the Zadroga 9/11 Compensation Act.  First, for an individual who has not settled a prior claim or lawsuit, the maximum fee that may be charged by the lawyer is 10 percent.  For an individual who was a part of the recently settled lawsuit, the maximum attorney’s fee is 10 percent of the total of the lawsuit settlement plus the amount awarded by the WTC Victim Compensation Fund minus  “the total amount of all legal fees charged for services rendered in connection with such settlement.” 

In other words, under the Zadroga Act, individuals who settled their lawsuit who also file a WTC Victims Compensation Fund claim will never pay more than a 10 percent attorney’s fee on all amounts received (the total received from the settled lawsuit plus the amount awarded by the Fund).  

Another question raised is whether an injured person who had a lawsuit has the right to choose a new attorney to file a claim under the Victims Compensation Fund?   The answer is YES! 

Injured workers and volunteers who where part of the settled lawsuit have the absolute right to have a new lawyer represent them to file a claim under the Victims Compensation Fund. The claimant will still pay the same 10 percent attorney’s fee, while having the benefit of a new attorney giving a “fresh look” at the claimant’s injuries without any increased attorney’s fee or cost.   

The final question is whether it is difficult to switch to a new attorney to file a claim under the Victims Compensation Fund? The answer is “NO”.

An injured worker who wants a new attorney to help maximize a claim under the Victims Compensation Act needs only to sign a one page form.  The new lawyer will obtain all of the medical records from the prior attorney (all medical records are the property of the client), with no need for the injured worker to get any records or even have any contact with the old lawyer