22 Years After: Remembering 9/11 and the Ongoing Fight for Victims' Compensation

Robert A. Grochow
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As the nation prepares to mark the 22nd anniversary of the devastating events of September 11, 2001, we gather to remember and honor those who lost their lives, the heroes who responded with unmatched bravery, and the countless individuals, including office workers, residents, students and teacher and others exposed to the toxic dust in the wake of 9/11, whose lives were forever altered by that fateful day. The anniversary serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience of the human spirit, the enduring impact of tragedy, and the unyielding pursuit of justice for victims and survivors.

The 22nd anniversary of the devastating events of 9/11 serves as a reminder of the tireless pursuit of justice for victims and survivors.

The Quest for Justice and Compensation

Background and Challenges

In the aftermath of 9/11, a monumental effort was launched to secure justice and compensation for the victims and their families. However, this quest for justice was fraught with challenges, bureaucratic obstacles, and a lack of clarity on how to address the unique circumstances arising from the attacks.

Law Firms: Champions of Justice

The attorneys of Cannata, Hendele & Cannata have been at the forefront of litigation for survivors.

Shortly after 9/11, attorneys in New York took a lead in trying to provide some relief for the surviving family members or those who continued to be exposed to the toxic air and suffered severe medical illness. Monumental efforts were made to present a claim in Federal Court to obtain such relief. Cannata, Hendele and Cannata were at the forefront of the litigation and through an appointment by the Federal Court and Judge, acted as one lead attorney in this fight. We were persistent and after almost 12 years of persistence were successful in obtaining compensation for those that had suffered. 

But this was not the end of our battle for those who have suffered. Again, lawyers were at the forefront of getting Congress to act and create the Victim Compensation Fund to provide additional benefits and continuously to renew those benefits, both money and health, for those who suffered. Again Cannata, Hendele and Cannata contributed to this effort and strongly advocated for such relief. In fact, some of our firm’s clients with our backing had a major presence in Washington during these battles. 

The Tireless Advocates: Unions and Law Firms Fighting for Victims

Unions: Unsung Heroes

Unions played a pivotal role in supporting 9/11 responders and workers. Their unwavering commitment to securing healthcare and compensation for those affected serves as a testament to the power of collective action. A large percentage of the post 9/11 work-force were union members and provided a valuable service following this tragic event in trying to get New York City’s infrastructure up and running. Unfortunately their significant exposure to the toxic air has left thousands with permanent illness, including many different cancers.  

Unions have continued to play a pivotal role in supporting 9/11 responders and workers.

Celebrity Advocates Increase Public Awareness

The efforts of the lawyers, and victims required public support and advocacy and many members of Congress took a leadership role. In further support of this effort, many well known members of the entertainment and news industry became strong advocates for the cause including Jon Stewart, who continues to fight for the rights of those who have suffered.

While unions and legal advocates worked tirelessly, celebrities like Jon Stewart helped to capture the public's attention and put pressure on lawmakers to do the right thing.

The Human Stories: Victims and Survivors

Faces of Resilience

Behind the statistics and legal battles are the poignant stories of individuals profoundly impacted by 9/11. Their stories are a testament to their strength and determination.

It is no wonder, given the massive amount of toxic air that was present for months, that individuals suffered respiratory conditions. Unfortunately, as years passed, many people have now been diagnosed with life threatening cancer, and more and more people are dying. Cannata, Hendele and Cannata have proudly, since 2003, represented these individuals seeking some level of financial award for their suffering.

The effects of the toxic air that was present for months resulted in life-threatening cancer and death; sometimes many years later.

The grief of one of our clients is overwhelming. A financial analyst in the prime of his career was overtaken by brain cancer. His wife and children have lived through this horrific set of events by his side at every step of the battle. His children, a shining light each day at the end of a grueling course of treatment. Our firm was able to fight the battle for him with the Victim Compensation Fund. There is at least some comfort from the fact that we obtained a very significant award sufficient to provide financial stability to the family. 

Many of our clients were directly involved in the post 9/11 clean-up in surrounding buildings infested with the toxins, as well. One, an asbestos worker was eventually diagnosed with a severe cancer. Again, we fought for him in the Victim Fund again obtaining a substantial money award, and helped him through the World Trade Center Health Program, which not only examines 9/11 survivors, but can sometimes provide medical care or financial payment for care. 

The Legacy of Ground Zero: Health Impacts and Support

Unseen Consequences

The lasting health consequences of Ground Zero exposure continue to affect survivors, responders, and workers. Respiratory issues, cancer, and mental health conditions are among the ongoing challenges they face.

The lasting health consequences continue to affect first responders, workers, students, teachers, and their families.

World Trade Center Health Program: A Lifeline

When Congress created the Victim Compensation Fund, it also provided for the World Trade Center Health Program. From a legal standpoint, claimants generally need to process through the Health Program and be certified as having a 9/11 related illness. But even more important to the victim is the health benefits they may provide. Aside from ongoing monitoring of your general health, they can provide medical care, or financial payment for care, all paid by the Federal Government. The Health Program has a massive network, now throughout the country with specialists in many areas including respiratory and cancer. 

Looking Ahead: Continuing the Fight for Justice

The Role of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund remains a vital source of financial support for victims and their families. However, the fight for justice is far from over.

The Fund was initially established in 2003 and provided compensation for those most directly affected and present on 9/11. When it was re-established in 2010 it greatly expanded the base of individuals affected. The Fund finally recognized that the toxins in the air were affecting thousands of people who lived and worked in lower Manhattan. Every few years, the lawyers and politicians and claimants were back in Washington fighting for a continuation of the Fund and that required Congress to add additional money to support the process. While the Fund has finally received a level of financial support that will keep it going through 2090 with fewer hurdles than before, the World Trade Center Health Program is in jeopardy of running our of money.. That battle continues. The existence of both of these programs is critical to supporting those who have and continue to suffer. 

The need for support and compensation is an enduring one. The determination of survivors, advocates, and legal champions continues to help those most impacted.


Remembering, Honoring, and Looking Forward

As we remember the events of September 11, 2001, and pay tribute to the lives lost and the heroes who emerged, we also acknowledge the enduring need for support and compensation. The 22nd anniversary of 9/11 serves as a solemn reminder that the pursuit of justice and the quest for a brighter future persist, driven by the unwavering determination of victims, survivors, advocates, and legal champions. We look back not in despair, but with a renewed sense of purpose. Remembering, honoring, and relentlessly pursuing a brighter, just future for all impacted by the tragedy of 9/11.

“At Cannata, Hendel & Cannata, we, as attorneys, are privileged and honored to represent individual claimants or their surviving family members in a process, often involved and lengthy but with the potential benefit of significant sums of money to our clients or ongoing medical care where appropriate. While the work we perform is complex, it is done with compassion and respect. We recognize nothing we do as attorneys can heal you or return a loved one lost, but any positive outcome we get hopefully makes the journey going forward a little easier.”

- Robert A. Grochow, PC

Deadline Alert: Don't wait, register your VCF claim today
Over 300,000 people may still qualify for a payout from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and free health benefits from the World Trade Center Health Program. Speak with our 9/11 attorneys today to see if you qualify.
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