The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act

 

CAPTAINS ENDOWMENT ASSOCIATION BULLETIN - FEBRUARY 2011

The official publication of the Captains Endowment Association, Police Department, City of New York

"Managing the FINEST"

 

By Robert Ungaro & Nicholas Cifuni, Esqs.

 

As disability counsel to the CEA, we have begun receiving inquiries from CEA members regarding the January 2, 2011, enactment of H.R. 847, otherwise known as The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.   As a service to the membership, we are providing you with a preliminary summary of the act’s relevant provisions.

 

Members should be aware that the Zadroga Act, which reopens the Victims Compensation Fund of 2001, provides $4.2 billion dollars to finance two important benefits:

 

  1. Continued Health care monitoring and treatment and;

  2. Compensation to Members of Service or the relatives of deceased Members of Service who were physically injured or killed as a result of 9/11.

 

Procedurally, the law provides for the appointment of a Special Master, by the U.S. Attorney General. The Special Master will be responsible for administering the fund, processing claims and promulgating regulations within 180 days of its enactment (7/2/11). Until such regulations and procedures go into effect, no claim can be filed. However, the Act does provide information on coverage:

 

ELIGIBILITY FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS:

 

WHO: Active or Retired Officers who worked or volunteered in rescue, recovery, cleanup or related support services. 

 

WHERE: In lower Manhattan, (south of Canal), the Staten Island Landfill or Barges and Piers.

 

WHEN:

  • 4 Hours in first 4 days;

  • 1 Day in September of 2001; or 

  • 80 hours between 9/11/2001 &  7/31/2002. 

 

WHAT: The development of serious, physical ailments which may include: Asthma, COPD, Interstitial Lung Disease, Asbestosis, certain Cancers, Chronic Sinusitis, Chronic Rhinitis, GERD, Sleep Apnea and Birth Defects.

 

HOW: Treatment: The Zadroga Act requires treatment by medical professionals for 9/11 related physical injuries within a reasonable time from the date of discovery and which is supported by contemporaneous medical evidence.

 

TIME PERIODS WITHIN WHICH CLAIMS MUST BE FILED: 

 

The Zadroga Act divides those who can file into two groups to be determined by the Special Master.

 

  • Group 1: Individuals who knew or should have known that they suffered a physical harm as a result of 9/11 BEFORE the date the new regulations are promulgated - such individuals will have two years from the date new rules are promulgated by the Special Master in which to file a claim.

  • Group 2: Individuals who become aware of a physical harm as a result of 9/11 AFTER the date new rules are promulgated by the Special Master - such individuals will have two years form the date the Special Master determines that such individual knew or should have known that they suffered from such harm and were eligible to file a claim.

 

IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES CLAIMS ARE TO BE FILED DURING THE FIVE YEARS from the date the new rules are promulgated.

 

PENDING AND FUTURE CIVIL CLAIMS:

 

This Fund was established as an alternative to litigation and requires that individuals who wish to file a claim, waive their right to file a future civil action for damages as a result of 9/11 in Federal or State court. The Zadroga Act also makes provisions for those who previously commenced civil actions during the years since the Victims Compensation Fund closed (December 2003) in two ways:

  • Pending Actions: Individuals with pending claims may not submit a claim under this act unless they withdraw from such action within 90 days from the date that regulations are established.

  • Settled Actions: Such individuals may not submit a claim unless such action was commenced AFTER 12/22/2003 and a release of all claims in the action was tendered prior to the date on which the Zadroga Act was enacted. 

 

BENEFITS:

 

Claims can be filed for both Economic and Non-economic losses. Economic Loss means any pecuniary loss resulting from harm (including the loss of earnings or other benefits related to employment, medical expense loss, replacement services loss, loss due to death, burial costs, and loss of business or employment opportunities) to the extent recovery for such loss is allowed under applicable State law. Non-economic Loss means losses for physical and emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium (other than loss of domestic service) hedonic damages, injury to reputation, and all other non-pecuniary losses of any kind or nature.

 

The Special Master in determining award values, shall consider Collateral Source compensation, which may include life insurance, pension benefits, death benefits, and payments by Federal, State, or local governments related to 9/11, or prior civil claim awards.

 

CAPPED LEGAL FEES:

 

The Zadroga Act has prudently established that attorney fees for representation in connection with such claims will be capped at 10%.  As a service to CEA members, the firm of Ungaro and Cifuni is available to represent CEA members with claims or to help with other related disability issues. We may be reached at (212) 766-5800 our website address is http://nycdisabilitylaw.com.

 

This information is not meant to cover every situation, it is, instead a general statement concerning the Zadroga Act. It is not to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice from an attorney.

 

Robert Ungaro and Nick Cifuni, Ungaro & Cifuni, LLP