After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on the morning of September 11, 2001, few could have predicted the adverse health conditions first responders and others at Ground Zero would experience in the future.
While most focused on the immediate severe injuries and deaths at the WTC and other terrorist attack sites, the effects of toxic dust exposure would take time to uncover.
Cannata, Hendele & Cannata, a premier 9/11 law firm in New York City, represents first responders, members of the Fire Department New York (FDNY), debris removal crews, police officers, residents, office workers and survivors who have developed a 9/11-related illness due to WTC toxins.
Remember, you must enroll in the WTC Health Program and have your illness certified to be eligible for compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
Please call Cannata, Hendele & Cannata at 1-888-982-8428 to determine eligibility and request our services with filing a VCF claim, including gaining access to the WTC Health Program.
The Victim Compensation Fund & respiratory ailments
The James Zadroga Act was named for a 34-year-old New York City police officer who died of respiratory disease in 2006.
It was renewed in 2010, 2015, and permanently in 2019.
Since the first version of the James Zadroga Act authorized funds in 2004, nearly 60,000 people have applied to the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) with respiratory health conditions such as:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Decline in lung function
- Interstitial lung disease
- Lung cancer
- Sarcoidosis, which is inflammation of a body organ and describes the lungs in this case
Other noteworthy facts about 9/11-related illnesses related to the respiratory system include:
- First responders, such as members of the FDNY who reported a loss of pulmonary function after serving in the exposure zone, continue to struggle with diminished lung capacity today. Volunteers and others present in an exposure zone have had a similar outcome.
- Crews responsible for debris removal and recovery workers have reported high rates of sarcoidosis.
The longer the exposure to toxic dust at Ground Zero, the more likely you have developed a serious respiratory health condition.
Cannata, Hendele & Cannata are here to help you claim the VCF COPD awards you're entitled to receive.
Call us today at 1-888-982-8428 to discuss your next steps.
The link between COPD and the 9/11 Exposure Zone
COPD is an inflammatory condition of the lungs that interferes with airflow to and from the lungs. People with COPD often had chronic bronchitis or emphysema first.
Smoking and cigarette smoke exposure are common causes of COPD. However, even non-smokers exposed to toxic dust and fumes from Ground Zero have also developed COPD.
According to air pollution expert Thomas Cahill, dust from the collapsed World Trade Center buildings was extremely toxic.
The fact that much of the toxic dust came from pulverized concrete is one reason for the increase in WTC toxins. A strong connection between inhaled concrete and silicosis existed prior to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Scientists who studied the non-concrete rubble from Ground Zero determined that it contained more than 2,500 unique types of contaminants. If you have COPD, you may have also inhaled toxic fumes from fires that burned in the New York City Exposure Zone until December 2001.
Here are the most common symptoms associated with COPD:
- Chest tightness
- Chronic mucus-producing cough
- Recurring respiratory infections
- Shortness of breath worsening with physical exertion
- Swelling of the legs, feet, or ankles
- Unintended weight loss as COPD progresses
People with COPD can experience events called exasperations. That means their symptoms worsen beyond their usual daily symptoms and persist for several days.
If you have any of these symptoms but do not yet have a diagnosis of COPD, we will help you obtain a proper diagnosis through the World Trade Center Health Program. A confirmation of your diagnosis also makes you eligible to apply for VCF COPD awards. The personal injury attorneys at Cannata, Hendele & Cannata have several years of experience representing claimants and helping them receive the medical care and compensation they need.
Probable causes for World Trade Center victims diagnosed With COPD
Besides concrete dust, you may have inhaled chemical products from burning building materials and alkaline dust from building material blown apart in the terrorist attacks. Alkaline inhalation can lead to problems such as COPD and other respiratory health conditions. Alkaline silica dust from the numerous dust clouds caused inhaled dust to lodge in the small airways of first responders and others present in the New York City Exposure Zone.
Scarring, narrowing of the airways, and inflammation are the most common symptoms from exposure to dust clouds comprised of alkaline silica dust. For some people present in Lower Manhattan after the terrorist attacks, the dust settled into their sinuses and nose rather than the small airways. This type of exposure likely worsened pre-existing conditions like asthma, allergic rhinitis, or chronic sinusitis.
How long do I have to File a COPD Claim with the VCF & WTCHP?
Before you can receive VCF COPD awards, you must register for the WTC Health Program and have a program official confirm your diagnosis and causation to your exposure on or after 9/11. Your attorney will help you follow these steps to register for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund:
- Register as a participant in the VCF by July 29, 2021 (for certain claims, this extended deadline is expiring soon) and then submit a VCF claim by October 1, 2090.
- Provide proof of a 9/11-related illness like COPD certified by an official from the WTC Health Program. The VCF also has a private physician process that allows program officials to certify your COPD if you received treatment from a private doctor. However, using this option is uncommon.
- Provide proof of your presence at one of the terrorist attack sites, along the debris removal routes, or the New York City Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002.
With your written consent, our attorneys will locate the necessary proof for you. Common examples include an old lease statement or mortgage, verification of employment, or signed affidavits from people who witnessed your presence in the New York City Exposure Zone, debris removal routes, the World Trade Center, or other site impacted by the terrorist attacks.
If my loved one passes away after filing a COPD claim, can I amend my claim?
The general answer is Yes. A deceased claim is one in which a family member files a VCF claim on behalf of someone who died due to an eligible 9/11-related illness.
When you file a new deceased claim, the VCF requires you to submit all supporting documents and claim all losses before the claim reaches the final determination status. Y
ou can amend a VCF claim at any time before it reaches this status.
The VCF allows exceptions for a deceased claim; call Cannata, Hendele & Cannata to see if your loved one’s death claim is eligible and timely.
- You previously received a VCF award and then filed an amendment prior to December 9, 2019. You can file an amended claim if you previously received a VCF award but did not include the required supporting documentation until March 9, 2020. Since this date has already passed, you can only make amendments under the limited circumstances described below.
- You previously filed a VCF claim for wrongful death, but the VCF concluded the evidence did not support that a 9/11-related illness caused your loved one's death. You can file a new claim with additional evidence in this situation.
- The VCF previously denied your deceased claim because that person didn't have an eligible health condition. Several new health conditions now appear on the VCF eligibility list, and you can file a new claim if your loved one had a newly listed 9/11-related illness.
- You intend to seek reimbursement for past medical expenses incurred by your deceased loved one.
- You need to change the Personal Representative on the VCF claim, which can include adding a Personal Representative due to death not attributed to a 9/11-related illness.
- VCF program administrators determine that not allowing you to amend a deceased claim would create a substantial injustice.
Discuss your VCF COPD award eligibility with a 9/11 lawyer today
When considering which law firm to work with to pursue your VCF award, consider the experience of its attorneys in securing compensation for people affected by 9/11-related illness and wrongful death.
Cannata, Hendele & Cannata has represented first responders, police officers, office workers, students, residents, and numerous others in the New York City Exposure Zone since 2004.
We have worked with 9/11 victims continuously as early as 2004 when the program received funding.
Our attorneys have a deep understanding of the VCF and have represented thousands of people with 9/11-related illnesses.
Call 1-888-982-8428 today or contact us online to learn if you qualify for a VCF COPD award.