Added Weight: Burden of Proof
Although it began payout to victims again in January of this year, the World Trade Center September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) will not likely ever be able to fully compensate each victim. While vested with over $2 billion for illness and injury caused in the attack, the number of claims made against that sum will stretch every dollar. Proof of exposure to contaminants after the attack is required — and sometimes proof is hard to come by.
RoseMarie Fitzgerald is the widow of New Jersey policeman Joseph Fitzgerald. According to Ms. Fitzgerald, on September 11, 2001, Mr. Fitzgerald went to Ground Zero along with others from police departments around the area to try and help. When he returned a day later, Ms. Fitzgerald reports her husband said he could not breathe. The episode worsened an existing pulmonary condition and Mr. Fitzgerald passed away in August 2010.
Like other claimants of the VCF, Ms. Fitzgerald must provide proof that her husband was at an Exposure Zone in the time immediately following the terrorist attacks. Although the Jersey City Police Department awarded Mr. Fitzgerald a certificate noting his service in the aftermath of the attack, the City is unable to provide any proof to Ms. Fitzgerald that her husband was physically present at a New York crash site. Without proof, Ms. Fitzgerald remains ineligible for benefits as a survivor of a WTC victim.
Types of documentation that may provide proof of presence at a 9/11 site include:
- Employer records
- Proof of residence and proof of presence during the attack
- School or child care records
- Sworn statements that attest to presence at a crash site
Over a decade later, a burden of proof may be hard to meet. Speak to our attorneys if you have questions.