Chronic bronchitis is one of the most common illnesses suffered by 9/11 responders. This serious respiratory condition is linked to inhaling the toxins in the dust cloud in the days and weeks following the terrorist attacks. It is also a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and can worsen over time. If you are a 9/11 responder who suffers from chronic bronchitis, you may be entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for the impact your illness had on your life and livelihood.
What Is 9/11 Chronic Bronchitis?
Chronic bronchitis occurs when the bronchial tubes become inflamed and irritated, causing mucus to build up. The swelling in the airways makes it difficult for the lungs to move oxygen into the body — and carbon dioxide out of it. The condition is associated with COPD and caused by long-term exposure to irritants, such as the chemical fumes and toxins in the NYC Exposure Zone in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Symptoms of chronic bronchitis can include the following:
- Frequent coughing
- Coughs that produce a significant amount of mucus
- Whistling or squeaking sounds upon breathing
- Tightness in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Weakness in the lower muscles
In addition, chronic bronchitis can lead to frequent respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu. While this condition has no cure, it can be managed with lifestyle changes, bronchodilators, medication, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation. Lung transplants may be necessary in severe cases.
VCF Compensation for Chronic Bronchitis
Responders who developed chronic bronchitis or COPD in connection with the rescue and recovery efforts in lower Manhattan between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002, may be entitled to an award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The VCF issues compensation to responders and survivors who satisfy the eligibility criteria and have been diagnosed with respiratory conditions due to being present in the NYC Exposure Zone.
The compensation awarded by the VCF includes monetary recovery for both the economic and noneconomic losses suffered by a victim. Economic losses cover things such as loss of earnings, employment benefits, and out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to a 9/11-related illness. Also referred to as “pain and suffering” awards, noneconomic losses are meant to compensate for the impact an illness such as chronic bronchitis had on a claimant’s daily life.
A respiratory condition can be compensated for noneconomic losses between $10,000 and $90,000 under the Zadroga Act — the amount awarded will depend upon the severity of the illness and how it affects a responder’s ability to work and participate in their day-to-day activities. A responder who can establish that their illness significantly impedes their daily life and livelihood will typically be awarded a higher amount than a claimant with a milder condition.
Importantly, a responder must first have their health condition certified by the WTC Health Program to obtain compensation from the VCF. The Program screens for, treats, and certifies a wide range of 9/11-related illnesses, including chronic bronchitis and COPD. It’s essential to be aware that the WTC Health Program and the VCF are separate and have their own eligibility criteria. However, the two entities work together to provide VCF compensation to 9/11 responders and survivors.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 VCF Attorney
If you’re an eligible responder or survivor who suffers from chronic bronchitis or another respiratory illness linked to the toxic dust cloud, you may be eligible to receive compensation from the VCF. However, the process of filing a claim can be confusing, and it’s best to have the representation of a knowledgeable 9/11 VCF attorney who can help you obtain the maximum monetary award you deserve for your illness.
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 over a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.