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COVID-19 Taking Heavy Toll on 9/11 Responders

After more than half a year of trying to understand and battle the coronavirus pandemic, we know that COVID-19 infects people of all ages and backgrounds, with the elderly being exceptionally vulnerable. The heroes of 9/11 face heightened risk from the virus due to underlying health problems dating back to that fateful day.

“9/11 made these people sicker, more vulnerable,” said thoracic surgeon Dr. Raja Flores of New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital. “There is still a lot we don’t know about COVID-19, but the healthier you are to begin with, the better your chances of beating it. Here you’ve got people who were risking their lives to save us, and now they’re getting sick because of their selflessness.”

Almost 75,000 of the 9/11 responders and survivors admitted to the World Trade Center Health Program are suffering from a wide range of life-changing illnesses, many of which are chronic respiratory or gastrointestinal conditions that contribute to their vulnerability to COVID-19.

Here at Barasch & McGarry, we represent more than 20,000 survivors and responders and we have witnessed the impact COVID-19 is having on our clients. Nearly 100 of them have passed away due to complications caused by a combination of the virus and health conditions tied to their exposure to toxins on 9/11.

Michael Hankins, a Barasch & McGarry client and retired fire marshal from Queens, developed gastroesophageal reflux disease as a result of inhaling toxins while sorting through evidence from 9/11. He contracted COVID-19 early in the pandemic and died on April 2. His wife, Victoria Burton, told the New York Post that Hankins’ health “went south very quickly” after the COVID-19 diagnosis.

Arthur Lacker, another Barasch & McGarry client, who spent two years clearing debris at Ground Zero, developed lung cancer and asthma and fought both conditions with everything he had, only to contract COVID-19 and lose his life on April 22. Lacker’s wife, Robin, was not able to be with her husband in the hospital because he was sick during the first peak of the pandemic, when visitation wasn’t allowed.

These are but two stories of 9/11 families devasted, first by the 9/11 attacks and now by the virus. Now more than ever we encourage all members of the 9/11 community to enroll in the free WTC Health Program. We’ve created a video discussing the WTC Health Program’s benefits, featuring Michael Weiden, a doctor from New York University. If you aren’t enrolled in the program, please watch this two-minute explanation. It could truly help prolong your life.

If you are a member of the 9/11 community and have COVID-19-related concerns, please reach out to your doctor. Barasch & McGarry is a firm devoted to helping 9/11 responders and survivors. Our New York attorneys stand ready to offer legal guidance. Please call us at 888-351-9421 or contact us online. Your initial consultation is free of charge.

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  • "Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson handled everything professionally and with patience. They always had time to answer all my questions and did what they promised. Thanks esp to Brian Calamaris Lee London, and Mariya Atanasova. Thank you." - William Collins, FDNY

  • "If I could give them six stars I would...don't even bother talking to anyone else concerning 9/11. The whole team worked night and day to deliver an outstanding settlement. They are honest, hard working and extremely professional. Just make the one phone call and let them do the rest." - Les Margulis, resident in the exposure zone

  • "I had a very good experience with Michael and Mariya. They made the process stress free. I would recommend this firm to anyone seeking assistance with 9/11 related illnesses." - JE Kirwan, worked in the exposure zone

  • "The people at this firm were just great. They were concern with making sure I was taken care of in every way possible. When I was given an award Mr. Barasch didn't think it was a fair amount and appealed the decision which got me a larger award. I am very satisfied with everything they did for me in the past and are willing to do for me and my family in the future." - Bob Wiecezak, FDNY-Retired

  • "Excellent law firm. Lee London and his staff were very responsive and always followed up with phone calls or emails. This firm is a strong example of what caring and personable lawyers are all about." - Letitia Egan, wife of client, volunteer in the exposure zone

  • Deadline Extended to Register for Compensation


    There is still time to apply for significant compensation if you have been diagnosed with any of the 68 cancers that doctors at the WTC Health Program (WTCHP) have linked to the WTC toxic dust. The deadline to apply to the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is two years from the date that a cancer has been certified by the WTC Health Program — or any other governmental agency. The two-year period to register doesn’t start on the day of a cancer diagnosis. Rather, it starts only when a cancer survivor is made aware their cancer was linked to exposure to the WTC toxins.

    For those who died from their WTC-linked cancers, the two-year period for their family to register starts on the day of the death of the WTC victim.

    Register For Compensation

Please help spread the word about the strict two-year deadline to register a claim

Many people have tried to complete the VCF application on their own, only to learn that it requires answers to hundreds of questions and many documents to download. It would be our pleasure to help you complete the process in order to ensure that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to. Please call us for a free consultation.

Let a knowledgeable attorney help you figure it out

A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. You undoubtedly have questions about your disease and how you will pay for treatment. Lawyers at Barasch & McGarry ensure you understand the complex requirements and help devise the best strategies for obtaining compensation and appropriate medical care under the Zadroga Act. Contact our law firm online or call 888-351-9421. The initial consultation is free, so it costs you nothing to find out whether a lawyer can help.
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