Thousands of people who survived the attacks of September 11, 2001 — at the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania — have unfortunately contracted illnesses and injuries because they were in that vicinity at that time. But thanks to an act of Congress, there are funds available to help diagnose and treat those brave individuals.
The illnesses range from respiratory diseases (asthma, bronchitis, mesothelioma and lung cancer) to eye injuries, gastrointestinal conditions, chest pain, headaches, skin disorders and musculoskeletal conditions. The injuries occurred to first responders such as firefighters, police and emergency medical technicians, volunteers, area office workers, residents, cleanup crews, and people whose children attended nearby schools.
Sadly, many of their conditions are only now becoming apparent, as the incubation periods for some illnesses can take years and even decades. Substances that include cement dust and asbestos fibers were identified in the plumes of smoke and particulates that hung over Lower Manhattan for weeks following the disaster, making their way into the lungs and digestive tracks of as many as 400,000 individuals.
The federal funds, provided for under the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, can be petitioned for by individuals if they so choose. But many, if not most victims elect to use an attorney to file a claim for one or several reasons:
- Get important information before you file. A lawyer who is experienced with these filings knows if a case is likely to be accepted. The attorney does not earn a fee if it is rejected, therefore legal counsel is realistic in this assessment.
- Provide documentation of your presence at the crash site. For many individuals, it may take work to prove where they were during the time period covered by the Zadroga Act rules.
- Submit credible evidence of health consequences. As with all personal injury cases, the cause-and-effect relationship between the event and the illness needs to be established with medical records.
Speak with a 9/11 attorney to learn more.