To us, it’s more than work. It’s personal.
September 11th, 2001 started like any other day as our attorneys and staff arrived for work at our downtown Manhattan office just a few blocks from the World Trade Center buildings. What would unfold over the next few hours would forever change our lives, our city, and the nature of our work.
Following that horrific day of the World Trade Center attacks, New Yorkers were encouraged to return to their normal routines. The Environmental Protection Agency said “the air is safe,” but everyone now knows it wasn’t. Responders and individuals, including Barasch & McGarry staff and their families, living, working, volunteering and going to or attending school near the 9/11 exposure zone breathed toxic air containing jet fuel, glass, fibers and construction materials, and a host of known carcinogens. Tens of thousands of people have since been diagnosed with cancers and other illnesses, and thousands have had their deaths linked to the toxins. Our firm is among those that have lost treasured colleagues, family, and friends as a result of the deadly dust in the air.
Advocating Since The Beginning
The first Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) opened soon after the deadly WTC attacks and offered financial compensation to people injured on a 9/11 crash site during or immediately after the disaster. After this fund closed in June 2004, it soon became apparent that toxicity at Ground Zero, in the dust plume, and the debris pile, had caused acute and latent health effects that worsened over time.
At this time, Michael Barasch, managing partner of Barasch & McGarry, represented NYPD detective James Zadroga. James developed pulmonary fibrosis, a severe respiratory illness, as a result of his exposure to dust and toxins at the World Trade Center site. After his unfortunate passing, Michael fought to have the City of New York recognize the validity of Det. Zadroga’s autopsy report. After meeting Michael and Det. Zadroga’s father, Mayor Bloomberg publicly apologized and acknowledged the link between the WTC toxins and Det. Zadroga’s illnesses and death. This key acknowledgement established the connection between the toxic air and illnesses in the 9/11 community.
Leading Advocates for 9/11 Victims
In the years following establishment of the presumed link to the toxic air on 9/11, our firm continued to press Congress for more help for 9/11 victims. Many trips to capitol hill and relentless pressure finally resulted in the 2011 “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act” which reopened the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and greatly expanded the number of people in the 9/11 community who could access the monetary benefits of the program. When it became apparent that this too was insufficient to cover all 9/11 victims and their emerging or worsening medical conditions, we fiercely advocated on behalf of the community. Again, our efforts resulted in positive progress with the passage of the Zadroga Act’s reauthorization in 2015 which added $4 billion to the VCF and expanded access to the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) for an additional 75 years.
Since that time, Barasch & McGarry has continued to make numerous trips to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers and lobby congress for the compensation and benefits 9/11 victims deserve.
Most recently, Barasch & McGarry joined forces with 9/11 advocates, including John Feal, founder of the FealGood Foundation, union leaders, and comedian Jon Stewart, to lobby Congress to permanently extend and fully fund the Victim Compensation Fund. The “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Compensation Fund Act” passed in late 2019 and appropriates funds necessary to pay all eligible VCF claims through 2090.
Committed to You, From First Contact to Compensation
We are proud to be the leading law firm for the 9/11 community and we’re proud of our track record of filing more VCF claims, and representing more 9/11 victims than any other law firm in the country. Barasch & McGarry attorneys are committed to recovering the maximum awards for our clients. Since September 11th, thousands of our clients — first responders, workers, students, residents and volunteers — have received more than $3 billion in awards from the VCF. We’ve helped countless 9/11 victims register for the free lifetime healthcare provided by the World Trade Center Health Program. We know the intricacies of these vital 9/11 programs and we’ll work to make sure you feel at ease every step of the way towards receiving the fair and full compensation you deserve.