9/11 Cancer Lawyers

What to Look For in a 9/11 Lawyer

By Troy Rosasco

If you faced a serious diagnosis due to your involvement at Ground Zero following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, or if you ended up with a serious diagnosis because you lived, worked, or went to school in Lower Manhattan in the months following September 2001, you may need to file for compensation through the VCF.

To maximize the compensation you can receive through the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and streamline the process so that you can get the funds you deserve in your hands faster, you need an experienced 9/11 lawyer on your side.

What should you look for in a 9/11 lawyer, and how do you know that you have found the right lawyer for you? Take a look at these key factors and how they can influence your relationship with your lawyer to ensure that you find a 9/11 attorney who will fit your needs.

1. The lawyer focuses on 9/11-related claims.

If you suffered a serious diagnosis, from mesothelioma to GERD, you may think that any personal injury attorney can help guide you through the process. The VCF does provide Policies and Procedures as well as many other documents that lay out the requirements for filing a 9/11-related claim, including offering an attorney the information needed to walk through the process, create an account on your behalf, and help you acquire the necessary paperwork.

An experienced 9/11 attorney, on the other hand, can help you move forward with your claim.

A 9/11 lawyer knows how to help you get the evidence you need to prove or support your claim.

To file a claim through the VCF, you will need to show several key things. First, you will need to establish that you were present on 9/11 or, for the many months after the attacks, that you lived, worked, or went to school in Lower Manhattan in the late months of 2001 or early months of 2002, when the dust cloud from the attacks filled the area; or, that you volunteered with rescue or cleanup efforts following 9/11.

Sometimes, it can prove difficult to get that information. 9/11 occurred 20 years ago. Over that time, many records have gone missing. Digital record-keeping did not have the same importance it does today, and not every facility has transferred those records properly. An experienced 9/11 attorney will know how to help you get the records you need.

In many cases, a 9/11 attorney may already have helped hunt down records from your employer, school, or landlord, since many of the people using those same services may already have filed a claim for compensation through the VCF.

A 9/11 lawyer can help determine when you should seek treatment through the WTC Health Program and what to do if you do not have access to one of those sites.

The World Trade Center Health Program exists to help victims of the 9/11 attacks receive the medical care they need free of charge. The federal government acknowledges the difficulties faced by victims of the 9/11 attacks, from those who faced serious impact and injuries during the attacks themselves to those who may have discovered the full extent of the injuries, including a cancer diagnosis, they were afflicted with many years after the initial attacks ended.

The WTC Health Program helps provide vitally needed medical care for those individuals, both ensuring that everyone can get the care they need without having to worry about the cost and ensuring that doctors who understand the impact of 9/11 specifically on the survivors can treat those illnesses in collaboration.

To seek compensation through the VCF, you will also need to have your illness certified by the WTC Health Program.

In some cases, you may not have the ability to go to a WTC Health Program clinic located in the Metro NYC area. Many people relocated out of New York in the aftermath of 9/11. Some have chosen to leave the country. If you have moved out of the area since 9/11, the WTC Health Program also includes a Nationwide Network of Providers so that you have access to free lifetime 9/11-related healthcare no matter where in the United States you now live.

It may not prove convenient for you to make an appointment at a WTC Health Program-approved facility, especially if you have serious complications from your illness that make travel difficult. An experienced 9/11 attorney knows how to get your cancer or other 9/11-caused condition certified for treatment and get you eligible for the VCF without the need to attend one of the WTC Health Program clinics.

A 9/11 lawyer can help streamline the process to get you the compensation you deserve.

You may have bills piling up fast, and need the compensation from your VCF claim as soon as possible. Even if you sought treatment through the WTC Health Program, rather than going through a private provider for your medical care, you may have lost your source of income or have other, immediate financial struggles that you need to contend with: the cost of travel to a treatment facility, for example, or other economic losses in your life.

For some people, a VCF claim and award could stand between them and utility shut off or eviction. In other cases, you may simply want to recover the funds you deserve through the VCF to make end-of-life arrangements, provide for your heirs, or offer benefits to yourself and your family as soon as possible.

A lawyer experienced in dealing with 9/11 claims can help streamline that process and make it easier for you to pursue the compensation you really deserve for those injuries. Lawyers who have dealt with 9/11 claims in the past know how to streamline the claim process, get everything filled out right the first time, and even expedite the process, if needed.

As a result, you may get the funds you need and deserve in your hands faster than if you try to handle the claim through an attorney who has not dealt with many 9/11 claims in the past.

A 9/11 lawyer can help you maximize the compensation you can claim through the VCF.

The VCF has clear categories for compensation and may even use established scales to determine how much compensation you deserve for specific diagnoses, based on the extent of your ailment. However, each person fares a little differently within the parameters of that diagnosis.

You may have unique financial losses, from the medical and travel expenses you faced while dealing with your diagnosis to the short- or long-term wage loss related to serious illnesses. An experienced 9/11 lawyer can go over the full compensation you deserve and help you fight for all of it, rather than missing out because you did not fully understand the areas in which you needed to seek compensation following your diagnosis.

Ideally, you would like to work with a 9/11 attorney who has dealt with other victims who have diagnoses similar to yours: an attorney who knows what compensation you should expect and how to go after it and maximize your award. While each claim may look a little different based on the specific losses you faced, both physical and financial, you want an attorney who will guide you through each step of that process and help you feel more confident in the compensation you should expect.

2. What kind of caseload does the lawyer’s office have?

As you look for a 9/11 attorney, ask about the office’s current caseload. You want an office that has the staff to support your claim, including adequate staff to hunt down the information you need or to ensure that your queries and concerns get dealt with promptly.

At the same time, you do not want a lawyer’s office that has so many claims coming in that you will end up shuffled to the bottom of the pile, feeling as though no one cares about helping you get the compensation you really deserve for your 9/11-related diagnosis.

Talk to the attorney about what kind of caseload they have as you get in contact. Ask about what cases they have handled in the past and whether they feel they have the staff on hand to handle your claim. If you feel the attorney has ended up overloaded, you may want to pursue a different lawyer for your specific claim.

3. Does the lawyer listen to your story?

When it comes to 9/11, it seems as though every American who lived through those days has a story to tell. Most people remember where they heard the news: what they did, how they spent the day, and how it impacted them.

For people directly impacted by the attacks, from those who rushed to volunteer at Ground Zero to those who lived, worked, and went to school in the area, those stories can feel even more potent. If you faced a serious diagnosis as a result of your involvement at Ground Zero or because you lived and worked in the area, you may have even more to tell about your struggles and how they have impacted you.

You want a lawyer who will listen to your story: one who will take the time to learn all about how 9/11 impacted you personally, how you feel about those events and your continuing struggles, and what goals you have as you move forward following those serious diagnoses.

Telling that story can feel incredibly cathartic, and can help you move on as you pursue compensation. If you contact a 9/11 lawyer who does not seem willing to listen to you with empathy and attention, you may not feel as comfortable with that lawyer, and you may not want to use that lawyer to handle your 9/11 claim.

4. How does the lawyer prefer to communicate?

Communication is a key part of any injury claim, including claims related to the 9/11 attacks. Before you start looking for an attorney, take the time to think about your preferred communication style and how often you would prefer to get in contact with your attorney.

Do you want an attorney who contacts you regularly with updates, even if nothing moves forward or during those long waiting periods while the VCF reviews your claim, or do you want an attorney who only gets in touch when he or she has something to report?

Also, make sure you consider how you prefer to receive communications. A phone call may offer a personal touch, but it may also require you to remember the information shared later—which could prove challenging if you have memory issues associated with an injury or diagnosis.

Many cancer patients, for example, struggle with memory problems while undergoing treatment and even in the aftermath of that treatment. Talk to the attorney about how he prefers to communicate and how he will ensure that you retain that information: providing information via text or email to back up those phone calls, for example.

5. Does the lawyer make you feel confident about your claim?

You should consider hiring an attorney to avoid having the filing a claim through the VCF can turn into a long, time-consuming process. While you may not have to do a lot on your end once you have your initial certification through the WTC Health Program and help hunt down any necessary evidence regarding your involvement at Ground Zero, you may want to rely on an experienced 9/11 lawyer to avoid having a long wait for compensation. Your 9/11 attorney should be able to give you fairly accurate estimates of how quickly your claim can be resolved.

You want a 9/11 attorney that makes you feel confident: one who clearly understands the compensation you deserve and will help you aggressively pursue it. An attorney should not make you feel comfortable with his or her years of legal experience and give you sound guidance as to the amount of compensation you can expect to be awarded.

Your 9/11 attorney should provide you with the confidence and clarity you need to move forward with your claim, including answering your questions and giving you a higher overall level of confidence in what will happen as you pursue compensation through the VCF.

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