Registering for the VCF does not require you to waive any rights, and we encourage anybody who was below Canal Street on or after 9/11 to do that now, whether or not they are sick. It’s quick and easy to do. Just go to www.VCF.gov and click on the menu item that says “Register.” From there, fill in the requested info and you’re done! Or call us and we will gladly do it for you. We encourage everyone to do this now to protect their future legal rights.
Filing a claim is a little different. VCF claimants waive their right to be a part of any civil lawsuits in state or federal court that are related to the events of September 11th. VCF claimants waive their right to sue the federal government and the City of New York, the airlines, the buildings where they worked, etc. That’s because the fund was established to be an expedited means of getting compensation to victims, intending to spare everybody the time and legal expense involved in filing multiple lawsuits. The VCF is an alternative to earlier litigation.
One of the benefits of the VCF, as opposed to regular tort litigation, is that claimants do not waive their future rights to amend their claims should they be diagnosed with a new illness in the future. For instance, if someone is awarded $20,000 for a non-life threatening respiratory illness, or $90,000 for a non-life threatening skin cancer, they will be able to amend their claim if, God forbid, they are diagnosed with a serious cancer in the future. The VCF generally awards $250,000 for life-threatening cancers. Also, if and when a VCF claimant dies from a WTC-linked illness, the claimant’s family is entitled to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased claimant’s Estate, no matter how much the claimant was awarded for pain and suffering.
Claimants with the VCF do NOT waive any rights to participate in JASTA lawsuits (Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act), which are generally filed against other nations that supported or financed terrorist actions. Any compensation you receive as a result of one of those suits, however, either from a court or a settlement, is treated as an offset and deducted from your VCF award.
Whether or not you participated in any early 9/11-related lawsuits, filing with the VCF is the best way to get the settlement you deserve. If you’d like to talk through why or learn more about your options, give our office a call.