The grief you experience after a loved one passes away due to a 9/11-related health condition can feel unendurable. But not only is losing a family member emotionally devastating — it is also financially stressful. If your loved one was a 9/11 responder or survivor who died due to an illness or cancer linked to the toxic dust cloud, you may be eligible to receive a monetary award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for their wrongful death. Importantly, there are two parts to a VCF deceased claim — the personal injury award and the wrongful death award.
Who Can File a VCF Claim for Wrongful Death?
The personal representative of an eligible responder or survivor’s estate is the only party who can file a VCF deceased claim on their behalf. Even a spouse or dependent must obtain either Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration to be appointed personal representative and have the authority to file a VCF deceased claim. While an appointment is typically obtained from the Surrogate’s Court, the Special Master can appoint, in certain cases, a personal representative for the purpose of filing a VCF claim.
It’s important to understand that to file a deceased claim, the victim’s passing must have been caused by their 9/11-related illness that was certified by the WTC Health Program. If their certified health condition was not the direct cause of death, the VCF will evaluate the death certificate to determine whether it was an underlying cause or a “significant contributing factor.”
Economic Loss in VCF Deceased Claims
Losing a member of the household can have a substantial economic impact on a family. A wide range of economic losses can be recovered by a 9/11 victim’s family by filing a claim for wrongful death.
Specifically, economic loss for a VCF deceased claim can include the following:
- Loss of earnings and benefits
- Unreimbursed medical expenses
- Replacement services loss
- Memorial service or burial expenses
It’s essential to ensure all required documents are submitted with a VCF deceased claim for economic loss. If any information is missing, the VCF may only issue an award for non-economic loss. Once a deceased claim has gone through the substantive review process, it cannot be amended.
Non-Economic Loss in VCF Deceased Claims
In addition to recovering compensation for economic loss, the family of a 9/11 responder or survivor who passed away may be able to receive an award for non-economic loss. These losses can include those incurred in connection with the personal injury portion of the claim as well as with the wrongful death compensation. Non-economic loss for the personal injury and wrongful death portions of a VCF wrongful death claim are both calculated separately.
A VCF wrongful death award provides compensation for the emotional harm a responder or survivor’s family suffered due to their loved one’s passing and the victim’s own pain and suffering. In the event the victim’s cause of death was the result of their 9/11 health condition, the Zadroga Act allows their family to receive an award of $250,000 on their behalf. The victim’s spouse and dependents are each entitled to an additional $100,000.
Although the non-economic loss compensation specified above is not available to a victim’s family if they passed away due to a cause unrelated to their 9/11-related disease, they may still be entitled to recover non-economic loss compensation for the personal injury portion of the claim.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
If you lost a loved one due to a 9/11-related illness, you may be entitled to file a deceased claim with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. However, the VCF’s rules, procedures, and regulations can often be confusing to understand. It’s vital to have a knowledgeable 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorney who can assist you with the process and obtain the maximum monetary recovery available in your circumstance.
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.