On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people were killed in the terrorist attacks. However, the death toll in connection with 9/11 continues to increase each year as responders and survivors develop cancers and other terminal health conditions linked to the 9/11 dust cloud. Tragically, due to inhaling and ingesting the chemicals that remained in the air in lower Manhattan following 9/11, many families have lost loved ones over the past two decades. If you have lost a family member as a result of a 9/11-related illness, you should be aware that you may be entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
What is a VCF Wrongful Death Claim?
If your loved one’s death was caused by an eligible 9/11 health condition, the personal representative of the estate may file a VCF deceased claim. Specifically, a deceased claim is comprised of two parts which are calculated separately — the personal injury award and the wrongful death award.
While the personal injury award compensates for losses a 9/11 victim incurred during their lifetime, the wrongful death award is meant to compensate the victim’s family for the loss of their loved one. The VCF will also consider economic losses such as lost wages and pension benefits if the victim’s 9/11-related illness caused their income to be reduced prior to their passing. In addition to recovering compensation for the non-economic loss the victim suffered, the victim’s spouse and decedent may also receive an additional $250,000 and $100,000 each, under the Zadroga Act.
Can the Family of a 9/11 Responder or Survivor Recover Compensation if An Award Was Issued to the Victim?
If a victim passes away due to their 9/11-related health condition after receiving a VCF personal injury payout, the VCF will consider whether additional compensation should be awarded to the family in a deceased claim. To calculate whether the family is entitled to additional monetary recovery, the VCF will recalculate the components of the initial personal injury claim. It will also review any amendments filed to it before the victim’s death which had not yet been decided.
If lost earnings were already awarded, they would be recalculated in the deceased claim to take into account the following:
- A consumption factor to reflect the victim’s share of household expenditures
- Replacement services loss (even if denied in the personal injury claim)
- Out-of-pocket burial and memorial expenses
Significantly, the VCF will not award lost earnings incurred before death if only a short amount of time passed between the victim’s disability determination and subsequent death resulting from their 9/11-related health condition. Additionally, if the VCF previously issued compensation to the victim during their lifetime, it will not reduce the personal injury award if the deceased claim results in a lower amount.
Can a Victim’s Family Recover Compensation for Death Unrelated to a 9/11 Health Problem?
While the family of a 9/11 responder or survivor who passed away due to a 9/11-related health condition may be entitled to receive an award from the VCF, they may also be eligible for compensation if the direct cause of death was unrelated. In these cases, the VCF may issue an award for non-economic loss which is meant to compensate the victim for the pain and suffering they endured before their death. However, the family would not be eligible for the additional compensation allowed under the Zadroga Act if the cause of death was not directly linked to the 9/11 health condition.
Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney
Losing a loved one due to a 9/11-related health condition is devastating. If you lost a family member as a result of an illness or disease linked to the dust cloud, you may be entitled to receive compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at the Dearie Law Firm, P.C. are committed to guiding the families of responders and survivors through the VCF claims process — and help to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve.
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, contact us today.