WTC Victim Compensation Fund
Federal assistance for responders and survivors with 9/11 illnesses
Congress created the first September 11th Victim Compensation Fund in 2001, soon after the devastating attacks. That fund offered financial compensation to people injured on a 9/11 crash site during or immediately after the disaster. Additionally, spouses, parents and children of people killed in the attack or who died as a result during the subsequent 72 hours could apply to the Fund for compensation for their loved ones’ suffering and death. The original Victim Compensation Fund closed in June 2004 after awarding approximately 7 billion dollars to victims of the attack and their families. However, when it became apparent that toxicity at Ground Zero, in the plume and the debris pile, had caused acute and latent health effects that worsened over time, Congress created a new VCF to assist responders and survivors with WTC-related illnesses.
The new 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
After the original Fund closed in 2004, a need remained for additional funds to cover people who did not seek medical treatment for their injuries within 72 hours of the attack, who suffered illnesses or injuries that began later, such as WTC cancers, and who lived and worked near but not on the WTC site. The James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act of 2010, named for one of our clients, took steps to address these gaps in the initial VCF.
The Zadroga Act reopened the Victim Compensation Fund to cover people who lived, worked, attended school or volunteered at or near a 9/11 crash site in the time period between the attacks and May 30, 2002. This allows people who arrived later — many volunteers, utility repairmen, people who transported or handled WTC debris — to link their WTC-related illnesses to the attacks. The Zadroga Act also expanded the area considered part of a “9/11 crash site,” covering more of Lower Manhattan and explicitly including areas through which debris from the WTC site traveled on its way to the Fresh Kills landfill and the landfill itself.
Getting a WTC illness settlement
Applying for compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is not like filing a lawsuit. Instead, you register and file an application with the VCF. As part of the process of establishing your WTC compensation eligibility, you must show:
- Presence at a 9/11 crash site as defined by the VCF in the period between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002
- Physical illness or injury resulting from your presence at a 9/11 crash site and falling into one of the categories covered by the 2010 Zadroga Act
Once you establish eligibility, the Special Master or other agent for the VCF computes your compensation. Congress appropriated $2.775 billion to pay all of the awards granted under the Victim Compensation Fund. To ensure that those funds reach all eligible applicants before the Fund is scheduled to close again in 2016, claimants will receive a partial payment when VCF reaches a final decision regarding their compensation, and a second payment in 2016 or 2017, after all eligible applicants have gone through the process. If the VCF awards more than its allotted $2.775 billion, those later payments will decrease proportionally for all claimants.
Getting help with eligibility and compensation
The WTC Victim Compensation Fund does not require you to have an attorney represent you in the application process. But an experienced Zadroga Act lawyer can remove almost all of the stress and worry from the process, while ensuring that you take the proper steps to prove your eligibility so that you may receive full and fair compensation. Unlike a standard personal injury case, in which attorneys’ fees may claim as much as 40 percent of a settlement or judgment, the Victim Compensation Fund caps attorneys’ fees at just 10 percent.
Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson — helping set things right
The skilled and dedicated personal injury lawyers at Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson successfully represented hundreds of claimants seeking compensation from the original 2001–2004 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. We know all too well that no amount of money could ever truly compensate for your injuries, suffering and losses. But we strongly believe that everyone injured by the attacks of September 11, 2001 deserves as much financial support as possible. Please contact us online or by phone at 888.351.9421 to discuss your eligibility for Zadroga Act benefits and how to begin the application process.