Hansen & Rosasco - 9/11 Cancer Claim

Important 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Alert: Extended Registration Deadline for Death Claims

By Hansen & Rosasco

If you lost a loved one due to a 9/11-related illness, cancer, or chronic disabling breathing condition, you now have more time to file a death claim with the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). The Victim Compensation Fund recently extended the deadline for grieving families to collect the compensation they deserve. Even if the VCF denied your past 9/11 deceased compensation claim, you now have until July 31, 2021, to file a claim.

The VCF extended this deadline because they know that many more survivors and responders are battling fatal and long-term illnesses because of their exposure to deadly toxins during 9/11. In the months that followed the deadly terrorist attacks, the air contained more than 2,500 known contaminants. The dust swirled in the air for months, landing on virtually every surface in Lower Manhattan. Many of these were cancer-causing contaminants, such as asbestos, glass, cadmium, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, mercury, and lead.

Since September 11, 2001, over 100,000 responders, survivors, and residents of Lower Manhattan have developed chronic disabling respiratory conditions, cancers, and other serious, long-term illnesses. These individuals were a huge reason New York City was able to recover after the terrorist attacks. As they bravely went back to school, reopened businesses, and returned to their homes, they kept the local economy afloat in one of New York’s darkest hours. Now, those individuals and their families need our help.

The VCF began as a way to help individuals and families who experienced tragedy and suffering because of the 9/11 attacks. Recently, President Trump signed the “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.” This fully funded the VCF through 2090, so if you are a survivor or surviving family member of someone who died from a September 11 illness, you won’t take a penny away from a first responder.

Unfortunately, many grieving families do not know that they may still file a VCF claim, even if they lost a loved one over the past 19 years. Thus, they may miss this important deadline. If you have questions about whether 9/11 caused your loved one’s death, speak to an experienced 9/11 attorney immediately. You do not have much time, so you must act quickly.

Understanding VCF Death Claims

The VCF recognizes that not all victims realize that 9/11 caused their medical condition or cancer. As a result, many of them may suffer through treatments and disabilities on their own and without the help they need and deserve. Sadly, many of them lose their battle with cancer or long-term disabling lung condition before they can receive benefits. When this happens, they leave their families behind to pick up the pieces.

The VCF allows grieving families to file a death claim seeking compensation for their losses and the pain and suffering their loved one endured. To date, an estimated 67,000 responders and survivors who were exposed to the 9/11 toxins have since passed away. Sadly, only 1,173 or 2 percent of those families filed VCF wrongful death claims—mostly because many do not realize that their families may qualify for the payment of an award.

To help these families, the VCF extended the time to allow them to file a deceased claims by July 29, 2021. However, the VCF previously required them to register this claim within two years from the date of death. This caused the VCF to deny many claims when families missed the deadline. Many grieving families failed to file in time because they did not even realize that the 9/11 toxins contributed to or caused their loved one’s death.

How Does This Help You?

If you previously filed a VCF wrongful death and received a denial because you missed the deadline, you should immediately contact a 9/11 lawyer. You now have more time to re-register and re-file your claim. This change gives hope to many families who already received a denial of benefits because of the previous two-year deadline.

Even if you did not file a claim previously, this new extended deadline helps. Many families reached dead ends when trying to file a claim in the past because of these strict deadlines. As such, they now have more time (less than a year now) to pursue compensation for their losses.

Did 9/11 Cause Your Loved One’s Death?

The vast majority of families do not seek compensation because they are not sure that 9/11 caused their loved one’s death. Even more families have questions about the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and how it works. These questions can delay or prevent them from seeking help and obtaining the compensation they deserve.

If this sounds familiar, here are some important facts about the VCF you should know.

  1. Proving that 9/11 caused your loved one’s death. An experienced VCF law firm will request and review medical records (including the pathology and other necessary records), obtain and review records of where a person lived or worked, and obtain witness affidavits to establish where the victim was on or during the months after 9/11, and prepare the many other forms and legal documents necessary to show the link between the 9/11 toxins and a person’s death, even in decades later.
  2. VCF is fully funded. You will not deplete funds or take funds from first responders. The VCF is fully funded. As such, it will not run out of money.
  3. VCF compensation is for everyone. The VCF funding is for everyone who suffered, not just first responders. This includes residents, students, workers, employees, and business owners.
  4. Meet the VCF time frame for qualifying. To qualify for VCF compensation, your loved one must have lived, worked, or been present in the Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001, and May 31, 2002.
  5. Presence in the Exposure Zone. The VCF’s Exposure Zone boundaries include any part of Lower Manhattan that is south of Canal Street/East Broadway/Clinton Street.

The best way to ensure that you protect your rights and secure the compensation you deserve is to call an experienced 9/11 attorney immediately. Your attorney will meet with you personally (or by telephone or teleconference during Covid) to discuss your loved one, their illness, and subsequent death. They will listen with compassion and help you explore all of your legal options.

Filing a Wrongful Death VCF Claim

Once you meet or conference with a 9/11 attorney and retain their services, your attorney will begin working on your claim. If your loved one already filed a claim before their death, your attorney will need to get a personal representative of the deceased claimant appointed and validated by the VCF. This is the fastest way to continue an already pending claim and prevent you and your family from needing to start over.

Only personal representatives of the victim can file claims with the VCF. If you wish to file a claim after the death of your loved one, your 9/11 attorney can help you establish your claim. Every state is different when defining the process for appointing a Personal Representative. In New York and most other states, a lawyer from our firm will file a proceeding in the Surrogate’s Court in the County where the deceased last resided before passing and have a family member appointed by the Court as theExecutor or Administrator of the deceased person’s estate and then proceed with the prosecution of the VCF claim. This is why it is important to have a legal representative on your side from the start.

There are numerous original documents you must submit with your claim before the VCF will recognize you as a Personal Representative. This includes:

  • Proof of Cause of Death
  • Proof of Court Appointment as Personal Representative, typically from the local Surrogate’s Court

The VCF must obtain original documents so that they can guarantee and verify the authenticity of those documents, including a paid funeral bill, a certified original of the death certificate, and the original certificate of letters testamentary or letters of administration.

As a personal representative, you can then continue your loved one’s claim or file a wrongful death claim with the VCF.

Your attorney will need to establish that your loved one had a certified WTC Health Program 9/11-related illness. Since the family oftentimes comes to the 9/11 attorneys after the loved one passes and before they are able to participate in the WTC Health Program to obtain a letter that certifies the terminal condition as 9/11-related, the law firm must obtain copies of the deceased’s relevant medical records and properly prepare and submit the right records — often with a legal brief or summary — to the VCF to make the determination that that death was caused by the exposure to the 9/11 toxins on 9/11 or the many months after.

Obtaining compensation through the VCF is harder than having the death be linked to 9/11 toxic exposure. This is because of two main reasons.

  1. The Exposure Zone is smaller with the VCF and only includes Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street.
  2. The time period is shorter. Proof of Presence in the Exposure Zone for the VCF is necessary between September 11, 2001, and May 31, 2002, as opposed to the WTCHP which is between 9/11/01 and July 31, 2002.

Your attorney will need to gather the necessary documents and proof to show that you meet these criteria — to satisfy the requirements of the VCF and the additional requirements of the WTC Health Program — before your claim can proceed and, just as important, be approved for compensation. This often takes a considerable amount of time and dedication. The paperwork alone is enough to exhaust already struggling and grieving families. That is why so many (over 80 percent) turn to a law firm that specifically handles 9/11 claims for families and survivors.

What Types of Conditions May Qualify for Wrongful Death VCF Claims?

The WTC Health Program certified hundreds of cancers and medical illnesses. If you believe that your loved one’s death was a result of 9/11, check their illness or cancer with the WTC Health Program’s list of qualifying conditions.

Some of those conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Aerodigestive disorders
      • Interstitial lung diseases
      • Asthma
      • COPD
      • RADS
      • Rhinosinusitis
      • Chronic respiratory disorder
      • Chronic laryngitis
      • GERD
      • Sleep apnea
      • Chronic cough
  • Mental health conditions
      • PTSD
      • Anxiety disorder
      • Panic disorder
      • Depression
      • Substance abuse
      • Adjustment disorder
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Cancers
    • Blood and lymphoid tissue
      • non-Hodgkin lymphoma
      • Hodgkin’s disease
      • Leukemia
      • Lymphoma
      • Multiple myeloma
    • All childhood cancers
    • Rare cancers
    • Breast cancer—male and female
    • Ovarian or uterine cancer
    • Digestive system cancers
      • Colon
      • Esophagus
      • Liver
      • Rectum
      • Stomach
    • Eye cancer
    • Head and neck cancer
      • Oral cancers
      • Nasopharynx cancers
      • Larynx cancer
      • Oropharynx cancer
      • Palate cancer
    • Respiratory cancers
      • Lung cancers
      • Heart and pleural cancers
      • Trachea cancer
    • Urinary cancers
    • Skin cancers
    • Scrotal cancer
    • Prostate cancer
    • Thyroid cancer

Even if you do not see your loved one’s disease or illness listed above, please know that this is just a small sampling of the many types of illnesses the WTC Health Program certifies. Speak to a 9/11 attorney to review your specific case to see if you can file a VCF death claim.

Types of VCF Compensation for Families

When seeking a VCF financial award after a wrongful death, families can seek numerous types of compensation, including:

  • Personal injury pain and suffering. This is an award that ranges from $10,000 to $340,000. It covers the time between when your loved one first received their 9/11 diagnosis and the date of death. It is for your loved one’s own pain and suffering.
  • Wrongful death pain and suffering. This award is typically around $250,000 and the VCF adds this compensation to the personal injury pain and suffering award.
  • Spouse and dependent awards. The VCF awards this to surviving spouses and children. This includes $100,000 for spouses and $100,000 for each of your loved one’s children.
  • Burial memorial services/funeral expenses. This award goes to your loved one’s estate. It compensates the estate for any out-of-pocket expenses for burials, memorial services, funerals, and cremations. The amount of this award varies and the VCF determines the final payout.
  • Loss of earning. Your loved one had a full life left to lead. Yet, their tragic death took them too soon. As such, the VCF strives to compensate the family for the loss in earnings and benefits they would have received if their loved one was still alive. The VCF bases the amount of money awarded on several factors:
    • Age of the victim
    • Work history
    • Number of years disabled before death
    • Number of projected years left until retirement

If your loved one did not work at the time of their illness, or was a primary caregiver, you can seek a value equivalent for the replacement of services lost. What did you lose in housekeeping, cooking, and childcare services?

Contact an Experienced 9/11 Attorney

Losing a loved one to a 9/11-related illness, cancer, or chronic disabling respiratory condition is tragic and painful. You deserve compassionate support during this difficult time. Winning a VCF wrongful death claim is not easy. However, now you have more time to do it. With the right support from an experienced 9/11 attorney, you can receive the compensation you deserve. Do not delay, however. This new deadline will expire quickly. Call (855) 353-4907 or visit our contact page for a free initial consultation and begin learning more about your legal options.

Posted under: 9/11 Victim Fund Deadlines, The Victims' Compensation Fund
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