VCF Claims for Construction Workers
In the 20 years since 9/11, many of the construction workers who worked at the site in the months following the attacks have suffered medical conditions related to exposure to toxic dust.
If you were a construction worker at Ground Zero or within the Lower Manhattan disaster area (all of lower Manhattan south of Canal Street) who worked on the cleanup operations directly or indirectly any time between 9/11 and May 30, 2002, you may be entitled to lifetime healthcare from the WTC Health Program plus an award of compensation from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)
It’s the construction workers of New York City – which included workers for Bovis, Tully, Turner and AMEC or their subcontractors – who gave the city back what the terrorists destroyed.
The Role of Construction Workers at Ground Zero
As previously reported by NPR, an International Union of Operating Engineers’ construction worker was the first person to swing a wrecking ball in Manhattan in 25 years. Wrecking balls are generally prohibited in the area, as the buildings are too close together to use one safely. 9/11 cleanup was the exception:
The construction crew spent many months working the pile a term used to refer to the work involved in cleaning up the rubble of the collapsed towers. It was work that required hundreds of people and many types of heavy equipment, with the workers committing to 12-hour shifts.
It was work they wanted to do, with many reporting a strong sense of commonality and duty among the workers. The end of each day was punctuated with throngs of people standing on the West Side Highway, honking and waving in support to those headed home for a bit of sleep before the task began again.
The work also completely stopped many times a day so that recovery workers could remove bodies from the pile or look at the photos of people’s loved ones who they had not heard from since the attack.
It was dangerous work: Many construction workers suffered severe or even disabling injuries during the cleanup operations. It ultimately made many workers ill with respiratory disorders and cancer from toxic exposure. These workers also include not just those on the pile, but the thousands of other workers who worked on the dozens of buildings that were nearby the pile that needed to be repaired or even cleaned of the massive dust fallout from the collapse of the WTC.
Ground Zero cleanup operations officially ended on May 30, 2002, many months after the attack. In all, workers cleaned up 1.8 million tons of debris. For much of that time, fires first burned and then smoldered within the rubble.
What Types of Illnesses Were Most Common Among Construction Workers?
Since 9/11, researchers have identified more than 60 types of cancer and two-dozen other conditions many affecting the respiratory system that construction workers, responders, and survivors exposed to the toxic dust have incurred.
Among the most common illness affecting these individuals:
- Chronic rhinosinusitis, which is defined as at least 12 weeks of at least two of the following conditions: facial pain or pressure; a reduced or diminished sense of smell, nasal drainage, and nasal obstruction.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), which is a condition that causes stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus, resulting in irritation to the lining of the esophagus.
- Any cancer. Common types of 9/11-related cancers include those impacting the respiratory, digestive, blood or lymphoid tissue, urinary tract, or reproductive system.
Asthma, when the sufferer’s airways swell, narrow, and produce extra mucus that makes it difficult for them to breathe.
Seeking Compensation Through the VCF
The original VCF was created shortly after the terror attack to compensate those most affected. The program continued to operate in 2004.
In 2010, realizing that those who were exposed to the toxic dust plume continued to struggle with illnesses and even incurred new diagnoses due to the latency periods for many cancers, Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. In early 2011, President Barack Obama signed the act into law.
The fund was permanently reauthorized in 2019 when then-President Donald 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 allows individuals to seek compensation for their 9/11-related injuries from the fund at any time through October 2090.
Compensation Is Available for 9/11 Construction Workers
Construction workers in the pile between 9/11 and May 30, 2002, can seek compensation for any pain and suffering plus any expenses (medical expenses, lost earnings, and other economic losses) caused by their 9/11-related illness if:
- They were working in the New York City exposure zone during that time. The exposure zone is an approximately 1.5-mile radius around Ground Zero that includes Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street, from the Hudson River to East Broadway, north to Clinton Street, and east of Clinton Street to the East River. The exposure zone also includes areas along the route taken for debris removal, including the barges and the Fresh Kills Landfill.
- This work involved either being in the dust plume immediately after the attack or anywhere within the exposure zone between 9/11 and May 30, 2002.
- They registered for the VCF. You must register within two years of obtaining a certified diagnosis of a 9/11-related medical condition covered by the World Trade Center Health Program or through the private physician process. Registration is not the same thing as filing a claim, but rather the method of reserving your right to file a claim before the program expires in 2090.
They are not a participant in an active 9/11-related lawsuit at the time that their VCF claim is filed, and they agree to waive their right to future 9/11-related lawsuits, except for civil actions related to the recovery of collateral source obligations (compensation you receive from other benefit programs due to your medical condition); or civil actions against knowing participants in the terror attack through the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).
What Compensation Is Available?
Claimants can receive compensation for income loss, including loss of earning capacity if their 9/11-related illness resulted in disability, plus pain and suffering damages. The program has established a cap for pain and suffering that provides a maximum amount of $90,000 for non-cancer conditions and $250,000 for cancer.
Your Support TeamOur 9/11 attorneys have represented and won many cases for Ground Zero construction workers whose lives and health have been heavily impacted by the aftermath of 9/11.
If you or a family member was a construction worker who is suffering from a 9/11-related cancer or condition, let us help you get the maximum VCF payment you deserve. Call us at 855-201-6147 or fill out a contact form here.
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“I would like to say thank you for the superior customer service that I received from the minute I sat down for my consultation regarding my 911 Victim Compensation Fund case I initially met with the Mr. Hansen who is awesome. I was also lucky to met Mr. Rosasco. They treated me like family and placed me in the good hands of Ms. Sidrah Syed,Esq. Ms. Syed is extremely dedicated , knowledgeable and kept me updated through each step of the process. I am extremely please on how my case handled and very lucky to have her working on my behalf. God Bless you and your law firm for all that you have done for 911 Survivors.” -Jeff F.
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