Zadroga Act Back Injuries

World Trade Center Back Injuries | Zadroga Act September 11th Compensation

Rescue workers and others who dashed to the rubble of the World Trade Center wanted to help so badly that they lifted concrete and metal however they could. There were tools, of course, but also teamwork, sometimes lifting chunks and rebar with just arms and hands.

Ten million tons of building materials collapsed with the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Scientists now know more about what chemicals were present in the dust and other debris, but the wreckage itself also created a hazard. Firefighters and police officers are among those responders who continue to feel the pain of their efforts on 9/11 and its aftermath through musculoskeletal disorders, carpal tunnel syndrome, and lower back pain.

If you or a loved one performed rescue, recovery, demolition, or cleanup work at the World Trade Center site, or participated in other related services there, you or your loved one may be eligible for financial compensation for lost and future wages if you suffer from lower back pain. The Zadroga Act September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, or VCF, considers “Responders” anyone who was at this site regardless of affiliation or employer.

In addition to police, fire, and emergency personnel, others who may qualify for compensation include, for example:

  • Sanitation workers
  • Transit workers
  • New York City employees
  • State or federal employees
  • Members of the National Guard
  • Utility workers (such as from Consolidated Edison, or ConEd)
  • Helpers from the Red Cross and Salvation Army
  • Cleaning workers
  • Temporary workers
  • Volunteers

Acute Lower Back Pain

Most people experience at least one backache in their lifetimes. Such pain or discomfort crops up often after moving a heavy object, sitting in one position for a long time, moving suddenly, or because of an injury or accident, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The lower back supports most of the body’s weight. A feeling of stiffness in the lower back, decreased movement in that area, or difficulty standing straight all fall under the classification of “low back pain.”

Acute low back pain often results from a sudden injury to the muscles and ligaments supporting the lower back. Muscle spasms or strains or tears in the ligaments and muscles in the lower back are some of the causes.

Acute low back pain can last for a few days to weeks, months or longer. It also can indicate a slipped or herniated disk in the spinal column, which puts pressure on nearby nerves and the spinal cord. A slipped disk often occurs after strenuous activity, such as lifting heavy objects and repetitive bending or twisting of the lower back.

Qualifying for Back Injury Compensation Under the Zadroga Act

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act established the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, both of which were reauthorized in 2015. The VCF is not a health-care program but provides compensation for any individual who suffered physical harm from the 9/11 terrorist attacks or the immediate cleanup efforts.

The VCF provides compensation for those experiencing a host of qualifying medical issues, as well as compensation for the personal representatives of anyone who was killed as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Because of the sheer amount of debris and the unique scope of efforts at the World Trade Center site, however, only WTC Responders are eligible for compensation for musculoskeletal disorders, including low back pain. News reports show that some responders were unable to return to their regular employment before the 9/11 terrorist attacks because low back pain made sitting, standing, and certain movements difficult. Some needed surgery.

To apply for compensation through the VCF, a person’s low back pain must be related to his or her 9/11 work, and she or he must have proof of medical care for this condition before September 11, 2003, according to the WTC Health Program.

Proof of that care includes being diagnosed by your personal doctor.

You or a loved one already may receive treatment for lower back pain at no cost through the WTC Health Program. However, enrollment in the WTC Health Program does not mean an automatic application for VCF benefits.

If you or your loved one has not yet applied for compensation through the VCF, the deadline is December 31, 2020.

How We Can Help 9/11 Back Injury Victims

The Marcowitz Law Firm for more than a decade has represented people injured by toxic exposures from the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath.

Edward Marcowitz especially feels a connection to the responders at the World Trade Center site. He is proud and honored to serve as the personal attorney for the family of late NYPD Detective James Zadroga, for whom the benefits act was named. Marcowitz also spearheaded one of the largest pro bono efforts on behalf of New York City firefighters injured in connection with the 9/11 terrorist attacks and their families.

If you’re unsure about whether your lower back pain qualifies you to apply for an award from the Zadroga Act September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, or if you have questions about filing a claim, please call us or contact us online now.

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