If your loved one was a 9/11 responder or survivor diagnosed with a WTC Health Program-certified condition and passed away, you might be entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. However, it’s important to understand that the VCF has many rules and regulations to follow when filing a deceased claim. Here are five crucial things personal representatives should know if they are filing a VCF claim on behalf of a deceased victim.
1. You Need to Obtain Documentation From the Probate Court First
In order to file a deceased claim with the VCF, you must first obtain Letters of Testamentary or Letters of Administration from the probate court. The type of petition you file will depend upon whether your loved one had a last will and testament in place designating a personal representative. Without this document, you will not have the legal authority to pursue a claim.
2. There Can Be More Than One Personal Representative
There may be multiple personal representatives whom the court has designated. In these cases, a lead representative must be chosen who will be the primary point of contact for the VCF and receive all correspondence. The lead personal representative will also give direction to the VCF for payment purposes and distribute it per the court order.
3. If You Cannot Obtain an Appointment From Probate Court, You Can Request One From the Special Master
In the event you are unable to obtain an appointment from the probate court to be the personal representative of your loved one’s estate, you may ask the VCF Special Master to appoint you for the limited purpose of filing a VCF claim. Importantly, you must provide sufficient documentation to the Special Master, including a notarized statement outlining how you’re related to the victim, why you could not obtain an appointment, and other information. Other documentation that may need to be provided can include a marriage certificate or birth certificate — depending upon who is requesting the appointment — and the victim’s last will and testament, if applicable.
4. There Is a Strict Time Limit for Wrongful Death Claims
Although the time limit to file a VCF claim is October 1, 2090, there is a much shorter deadline for registering to file a claim. Registration must be completed to be eligible to file a claim. In cases where the victim has passed away in connection with a 9/11-related cancer or illness, there is a two-year time frame to register with the VCF, which begins on the date of death. Failure to adhere to the registration deadline can mean you will be forever barred from filing a claim.
5. If the Victim’s Death Wasn’t Caused by Their 9/11-Related Health Condition, You Can Still Pursue a Personal Injury Claim
Even if a 9/11-related health condition didn’t cause your loved one’s death, you might still be entitled to pursue a personal injury claim on their behalf. For instance, if their cause of death was unrelated to the illness they suffered due to their presence in the NYC Exposure Zone — and they had previously filed a claim — a personal representative amendment should be submitted. But if the cause of death was linked to an eligible 9/11 health condition, a new deceased claim should be filed.
Contact an Experienced New York City 9/11 VCF Attorney
If your loved one passed away due to an eligible 9/11-related cancer, illness, or injury, you might be entitled to pursue compensation from the VCF. The 9/11 VCF attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have helped victims’ families recover the maximum compensation they deserve from the VCF for their losses for over a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.