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Can I File a VCF Claim if I Was a Student in the NYC Exposure Zone?

NYC Exposure Zone

In the weeks and months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, countless responders and survivors were exposed to the carcinogens that filled the air in lower Manhattan — including students in the area. Significantly, there were more than 20 public and private schools in the NYC Exposure Zone, including K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. It’s important to be aware that if you attended school south of Canal Street between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, and developed a 9/11-related illness, you may be entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.   

Filing a VCF Claim as a Student Survivor

Thousands of students attended school near Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, and in the following months. As a result of the toxic dust cloud that covered the area after the terrorist attacks, these students were exposed to chemicals, toxins, and carcinogens that caused many different types of respiratory illnesses, aerodigestive disorders, and cancers. Whether you were attending elementary school or high school, or you were enrolled in a college or graduate program in the NYC Exposure Zone, you may be entitled to file a VCF survivor claim if you meet the eligibility criteria. 

Specifically, the VCF sets forth the following eligibility requirements:

  • You must have registered to file a claim with the VCF in a timely manner
  • The WTC Health Program must have certified you with an eligible 9/11 health condition
  • You must establish that you were present in the NYC Exposure Zone
  • You must have been present in the NYC Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002

For those who attended school in the NYC Exposure Zone, the presence requirement can be established by submitting attendance records, a school transcript, or a student identification card. If this documentation is not available, another way of proving you were in the NYC Exposure Zone is by submitting two signed and notarized witness presence statements from people who can attest to your presence. Importantly, one of these statements must be provided from someone who is not a relative.         

What Compensation Can Students Obtain from the VCF?

Many 9/11-related health conditions can have a severe impact on an individual’s life and ability to carry out their job duties. Some can be permanently debilitating and disabling. If you were a student in the NYC Exposure Zone and have been diagnosed with a 9/11 illness or disease, you may be entitled to compensation for your economic losses — in addition to your pain and suffering.

The VCF issues awards for economic loss to compensate for the monetary losses you incurred in connection with your 9/11-related illness. This can include loss of earnings and benefits, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and replacement services loss. Monetary recovery for non-economic loss, also referred to as “pain and suffering” awards, is meant to compensate for the physical and emotional pain, inconvenience, anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life experienced due to the 9/11 health condition. 

Under the Zadroga Act, the VCF will issue a pain and suffering award between $10,000 and $90,000 for a non-cancer condition and up to $250,000 for any form of cancer. The amount that is awarded will depend upon the severity of the condition and the impact it has on your life and livelihood. In limited cases, the Special Master may exceed the statutory cap and issue an award in a higher amount. However, this is only done in cases where a claimant has been diagnosed with more than one cancer, or a cancer and a presumptively severe non-cancer condition. 

Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney

If you were a student in the NYC Exposure Zone in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and developed an illness linked to the toxic dust cloud, you may be entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Navigating the VCF’s rules, procedures, and regulations can be confusing and frustrating. It’s best to have a knowledgeable 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorney who can guide you through the process and obtain the maximum monetary recovery available based on your specific circumstances.

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have represented claimants and their families in 9/11 VCF claims for more than a decade. For a free consultation, call today.


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