Why Do You Need a Lawyer to File a Claim?

Why Do You Need a Lawyer to File a Zadroga Claim?

You are not required to have a lawyer to file a claim with the Zadroga Act September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). The claim form and instructions, as well as deadline information and other considerations, are readily available online at the VCF’s website.

That said, many 9/11 claimants find it very beneficial to be represented by an attorney during this process.

Some never have filed a claim for lost past and future wages and find the thought of gathering the relevant documents the VCF requires overwhelming, especially so many years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Those with health concerns also might feel daunted by filing a compensation claim because their attention is on their medical needs.

That’s why lawyers like the Marcowitz Law Firm consider helping people with these claims a special responsibility. Among the many tasks a lawyer can do throughout this process, the most important is concentrating on all the details so that you and your family can focus on your health and your life.

What an Attorney Can Do to Help with Your Zadroga Claim

Named for a late NYPD detective, James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act renewed and expanded the VCF. It also established the World Trade Center Health Program. The compensation awarded through the VCF depends upon a victim (or his or her representative) verifying symptoms or diagnosis of an injury or physical condition that the health program monitors.

These conditions include, for example:

  • Acute traumatic injury, such as head trauma, burns, complex sprains, and fractures
  • Cancer, including mesothelioma, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the breast, digestive system, skin, thyroid, lungs, heart, eyes, and skin
  • Childhood cancers, such as those diagnosed in a person less than 20 years of age who attended school or a day-care facility, or who lived in lower Manhattan at the time of the terrorist attacks
  • Aerodigestive disorders, such as asthma, interstitial lung diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic cough syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), or related sleep apnea
  • Musculoskeletal disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and low back pain (applies to Responders only)

You can file for a claim on behalf of yourself, as the personal representative of someone deceased, as the parent or guardian of a minor, or as the guardian of a non-minor adult.

Some applicants already are being treated for their conditions at no cost under the WTC Health Program. However, treatment in this program does not guarantee recognition of a compensation claim.

An attorney can help gather medical records from a private physician to verify a physical illness or injury, according to the VCF’s guidelines. In addition, we can help you or your loved one apply for the WTC Health Program if you choose.

A lawyer also can compile records or statements needed as evidence to prove the victim’s presence as a responder, rescue or recovery worker, cleanup worker, or volunteer at a 9/11 site (the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or the Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, Pa.). We also can help gather the documents needed to prove a victim’s employment, residency, or presence in lower Manhattan as a civilian during the attacks and aftermath, including at a school or day-care facility.

These documents include employment records, pay stubs, tax records, personnel rosters, utility bills, and school records verifying enrollment. However, the VCF also accepts as proof sworn and notarized affidavits, or unsworn statements complying with federal law, from anyone who can attest to the victim’s presence at a 9/11 site between relevant dates. A lawyer can assist in obtaining these statements or affidavits.

Our law office also can help with the following as needed:

  • Amending a claim for additional compensation should your condition or your loved one’s condition worsen
  • Obtaining pension records to supplement your claim
  • Preparing a 9/11 Victim Impact Statement to obtain the maximum award possible for noneconomic losses (such as pain and suffering)
  • Filing necessary legal documents for a Zadroga Act 9/11 death claim
  • Appealing a decision denying eligibility for a claim
  • Reviewing the award notice for accuracy and filing an appeal in the event of a disagreement
  • Representing a claimant at a formal hearing at the U.S. Department of Justice

What’s more, a claimant who hires an attorney need not worry about how much of any compensation will be paid in legal fees. Federal law specifies that legal fees in these cases are limited to 10 percent of a claimant’s recovery.

About the Marcowitz Law Firm

For more than a decade, the Marcowitz Law Firm has represented people and families injured by toxic exposures in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. We’re dedicated to this particular cause and consider it an honor to serve those affected by such a watershed event in our nation’s history.

Edward Marcowitz has virtually unparalleled experience in representing those affected by the attacks. He spearheaded one of the largest pro bono efforts on behalf of New York City firefighters and their families, working extensively with the Special Master of the original September 11th Victims Compensation Fund of 2001. As a result, he helped to recover almost $300 million for victims.

He also was successful in another pro bono case, overturning several FDNY Pension Board decisions that denied disability pensions to firefighters who experienced debilitating lung injuries after their work at Ground Zero.

Marcowitz has served as an expert witness with respect to the VCF on behalf of a Chicago family seeking compensation. After that case was settled on the claimant’s behalf, Marcowitz donated his entire $10,000 expert fee to both the Uniformed Firefighter Association and Uniformed Fire Officers Association of Greater New York.

In addition, he is proud and honored to represent the family of James Zadroga, for whom the benefits act is named. Marcowitz was one of the persons who lobbied Congress to reopen the VCF after the original fund expired.

If you’re unsure about hiring a lawyer, or have additional questions about what a lawyer can do for you during the VCF claim process, please call us or contact us online for a free consultation. We’re glad to assist you and explain your legal options.

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