Post-9/11 Injuries: The Long Term Consequences of the 9/11 Attack on Victims

Robert A. Grochow
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Tragedy struck the United States on September 11, 2001, as we all watched with horror the terrorist attacks against our country unfold. Almost 3,000 people died on 9/11. In the following years, thousands more would become ill and succumb to illness following the hijackers' attack. Those present at Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and the Shanksville, Pennsylvania American Airlines flight crash site still risk contracting cancer or another 9/11-related illness.

If you, or a family member, worked, lived, or were in the vicinity in lower Manhattan, Washington D.C., or Shanksville during the terror attacks, you may be eligible for compensation from the World Trade Center Victim’s Compensation Fund (VCF). The Gregory J. Cannata & Associates Law Firm understands the fear and suffering 9/11 victims struggle with and are dedicated to helping victims receive justice for their injuries. To learn how we can help you file a VCF claim, contact us today at 1-888-982-8428.

Whose Health May Be Affected by the September 11th WTC Attacks?

Thousands of people in New York City were potentially exposed on September 11, 2001, or during the ensuing months, especially victims, rescue workers, and those involved with recovery efforts or cleanup at the WTC site. Even almost 20 years later, the number of people affected by cancer and other respiratory diseases are still unknown. People most affected by toxic dust and other contaminants include:

  • NYPD 
  • Port Authority officers
  • FDNY 
  • EMTs
  • Recovery workers
  • Students
  • Children in daycare
  • Residents of lower Manhattan
  • Workers in the Twin Towers
  • Other workers in lower Manhattan

Essentially, anyone present during the terrorist attacks of September 11 or who spent time in the affected areas of NYC's lower Manhattan area may be eligible to make a VCF claim. Individuals present at the Pentagon and Shanksville site may also contract a 9/11-related illness. 

Long Term Side Effects on Children That are Victims of 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

Sadly, numerous children witnessed the horrific events of 9/11 and its aftermath. A 2019 study conducted by Columbia University found the long-term physical and psychiatric effects on children directly exposed are severe. Study findings showed children with direct exposure, defined as eyewitnesses or suffering exposure to dust, compared with other children who were in Queens but not directly exposed, were:

  • 36% more likely to develop a psychiatric disorder in the past year compared to 28% not exposed.
  • 27% more likely to have a lifetime physical health condition compared to 11% not exposed/
  • Four times more likely to experience physical-psychiatric comorbidity, which means these children suffer two or more diseases or medical conditions.

Experts say the long-term effects on children are alarming and indicate those suffering direct exposure during the events of 9/11 should be “followed for a lifetime.” As part of their health care, these victims should be screened for trauma, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and physical medical issues.

Most Common Health Effects From the World Trade Center Attack in NYC

The toxic debris from the collapse of both the WTC North Tower and South Tower contained over 2,500 different contaminants, including known carcinogens, asbestos exposure, alkaline cement dust, smoke, and pulverized building materials. The EPA found air quality at Ground Zero and surrounding areas of lower Manhattan did not return to pre-September 11 levels until June 2002. Due to this and other health effects associated with the 9/11 terror attacks, many illnesses and injuries have surfaced.

At this time, over 75 different cancers (several rare) have been linked to 9/11 exposure. Additional cancers are added to the list on a regular basis. Other adverse health effects include respiratory illnesses, burns, complex strains, eye injuries, fractures, kidney cancer and diseases, acute traumatic injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, and aerodigestive disorders. Furthermore, a 2011 study found WTC-exposed firefighters suffered:

  • 10% higher cancer occurrences than males in the general population.
  • 19% higher cancer occurrence than non-exposed firefighters.
  • Medical professionals suggest the World Trade Center site responders fall ill to more aggressive cancers at younger ages than other patients.

Experts believe initial first responders face a high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. A 2019 study found firemen arriving at Ground Zero on September 11 have a 44% higher risk of cardiovascular disease; those who arrived in subsequent days have a 24% higher risk.

Mental Health 9/11 Related Illnesses 

While many people suffering from 9/11 exposure develop physical illnesses, others quietly struggle with mental health conditions. PTSD, acute stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, panic disorder, and substance abuse are a few of the commonly identified mental health issues the 9/11 victims struggle with. PTSD and depression are two prominent mental health conditions linked to 9/11, significantly impacting adults and children. In 2014 a study found:

  • 15.2% of people exposed to the WTC attacks suffer probable PTSD.
  • 14.9% suffer from depression.
  • 10.1% suffer from both PTSD and depression.

On 9/11, 3,051 children under the age of 18 lost a parent. Many emotionally struggled from this loss throughout their childhood, affecting their mental health, social relationships, and overall well-being.

How to Register for the VCF

Victims suffering from 9/11 injuries and illnesses should not delay in registering for the VCF. This fund, established through the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (Zadroga Act), and later renewed in 2019 with the passage of the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act (“VCF Permanent Authorization Act”), ensures victims receive compensation to help pay for illnesses contracted from 9/11 exposure. These acts of Congress establish two victims’ programs; the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) and the VCF Program. The WTCHP certifies illnesses and offers medical services, and the VCF provides financial compensation.

Persons present south of Canal Street during 9/11 and its aftermath are eligible to apply, along with anyone who worked at the city morgue, Staten Island landfills, or the river barges during recovery and cleanup efforts. Individuals suffering from exposure did not have to be present on 9/11 but must have spent time in the designated locations in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

The fund is specific with eligibility. It is important that victims speak with a 9/11 attorney to ensure their illness is certified and correctly register to file a claim with the WTC Center Victim Fund. Incomplete applications often lead to delays or denials. It is a complex process, and Gregory Cannata & Associates will ensure your application is filled out completely, and all required documentation is assembled.

Deadlines for Registering With the VCF

The U.S. government has set two deadlines for the VCF claim process, a Claim Filing Deadline and a Registration Deadline.

Claim Filing Deadline. The VCF’s claim filing deadline is Oct. 1, 2090. The VCF encourages victims to file claims as soon as possible after receiving certification from the WTCHP for a 9/11-related health condition.

Registration Deadline. Registration is different than filing a claim. Registration preserves victims’ future rights to claim but doesn’t obligate them. This deadline varies upon individual circumstances. People certified by the WTCHP for their physical health condition before July 29, 2019, are required to apply for a claim by July 29, 2021. Individuals not certified by the WTCHP must register within two years from the time the WTCHP certifies their physical health condition.

Registration for deceased victims. Persons registering to file a claim for a victim they believed died of a 9/11-related physical health condition before July 29, 2019, must register with the VCF by July 29, 2021. Those filing a claim for a victim who they believed died from their 9/11-related physical health condition after July 29, 2019 must register with the VCF within two years from the victim’s date of death.

The VCF encourages eligible claimants to register as soon as possible, even if signs of illness are not present or if the WTCHP has not yet certified their condition. The Gregory Cannata & Associates Law Firm is fully committed to helping the 9/11 victims successfully register to receive their claims.

Our New York City World Trade Center Lawyers are Here For You

The long-term consequences of the World Trade Center disaster site and other affected sites are potentially life-altering for victims. Many people don’t know for years, or in some cases decades, if their exposure to the toxic dust and other dust cloud contaminants will make them sick. These illnesses affect their health, jobs, and quality of life.

If you or a family member suffer from a 9/11-related illness or injury, the law firm of Gregory Cannata & Associates can help. Our experienced and compassionate attorneys are dedicated to helping all 9/11 victims receive financial compensation for their losses and suffering. To learn more about how we can help you get WTCHP-certified and become eligible to apply for a VCF claim, contact our office today at 1-888-982-8428.


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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