If your loved one was an eligible responder or survivor who died as a result of a 9/11-related cancer or other illness linked to the toxic dust cloud, you may be entitled to recover compensation on their behalf — as well as for your loss. However, only the 9/11 court-appointed personal representative of the victim’s estate can submit a claim for compensation to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. assists families with all aspects of the VCF deceased claims process to ensure they obtain the compensation to which they’re entitled.
How Do You Become a 9/11 Court-Appointed Personal Representative?
Even if you’re the spouse or dependent of a responder or survivor who passed away from their 9/11-related health condition, you will still need to obtain Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration to have the legal authority to file a deceased claim with the VCF. The type of petition you file with the relevant surrogate’s or probate court depends upon whether the victim had a will or not.
Letters of Voluntary Administration are only accepted by the VCF in extremely limited circumstances — as long as they specifically allow for the filing of a VCF claim. However, you will still be required to submit Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration to collect the VCF award once it’s been determined.
If the victim’s death wasn’t caused by their 9/11-related health condition, you can still pursue a personal injury claim on their behalf but a wrongful death claim would not apply. In this case, if the Letters of Administration only reference a “wrongful death cause of action,” amended Letters of Administration are not required since there is no wrongful death portion of the claim for which to issue compensation. If the Letters of Administration used the language, “cause of action,” without further specification, the VCF will require amended Letters of Administration or an order clarifying the restriction.
Sometimes, there may be more than one 9/11 court-appointed personal representative. Where there are multiple personal representatives, each must submit the required documentation to the VCF. Additionally, while all the co-personal representatives receive correspondence from the VCF, one lead personal representative must be designated in order for the VCF to issue an award.
Personal Representative Appointment from the Special Master
If you’re unable to obtain an appointment from the court, you may ask the Special Master to appoint you as the personal representative to have the authority to file a VCF claim. In support of your request, you’ll need to provide the VCF with a written, notarized statement that details:
• How you’re related to the victim
• The reason you weren’t able to obtain an appointment from the court
• Whether there is a will, and if it names an executor
• The names and locations of family members who survived the victim
For children, parents, and siblings, a birth certificate must be provided to the VCF if they are requesting to be the 9/11 court-appointed personal representative. A marriage certificate or joint tax return should be included with the request if it’s made by the victim’s spouse. Additionally, if the victim had a will, it should also be submitted to the VCF.
Contact a Knowledgeable New York City 9/11 VCF Attorney
If your loved one died as a result of their 9/11-related cancer, illness, or injury, you may be entitled to compensation from the VCF. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has helped the families of firefighters, police officers, EMTs, construction workers, office workers, residents, and those present at Ground Zero or in the NYC Exposure Zone recover the maximum compensation they deserve from the VCF for their losses for over a decade. Contact us for a consultation.