The United States (US) federal government created the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund almost immediately after the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attack on the World Trade Center (WTC) and other crash sites. It came as an institutional response to compensate for the losses, pains, injuries, and sufferings of the victims and casualties of 9/11.
There have been changes to the policies and procedures since it started, now claimants have to navigate them to make the most of their compensation claims. If you think you’re eligible to file a claim, you might want to consider consulting with WTC VCF lawyers in your area. With that said, here are a few ways you can maximize your compensation claim.
1. Make The Most Of Maximum Caps For Non-Economic Loss
You should know the statutory limits or caps on claims for compensation of non-economic loss. The VCF awards monetary compensation to individuals who suffered non-economic losses from their presence within the exposure zone during or in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Non-economic losses refer to harm experienced by the victim or casualty, such as pain, distress, and suffering. This is based on the presumption that the losses are due to certain injuries or illnesses.
As a reference, keep in mind that the maximum amount of non-economic award that anyone can get for pain and suffering from cancer of any type is USD$250,000. Work your claims towards this maximum. The only exception to this is skin cancer, which has a cap of USD$90,000. The cap for the non-economic award for illnesses that aren’t cancer is USD$90,000.
2. Show Evidence Of Your Pain And Suffering
A disability lawyer can help you find a way to increase the standard amount that the VCF typically awards to claims for compensation of pain and suffering. They can help you show that you were adversely affected by the pain and suffering. To get the maximum amount, you have to present evidence that the pain and suffering had a significant impact on your daily activities, especially if they’re physically visible.
It would help if you could show pictures and videos, for instance, of how your pain and suffering have impeded some of the things you were able to do before. If you don’t have pictures or videos, you can ask for statements from your employers about how your movement or activities have been significantly degraded by your pain and suffering.
3. Ask For More If You Have Severe Non-Cancer Illnesses
Victims with severe lung diseases can be awarded the maximum cap of USD$90,000. This includes lung diseases such as emphysema, sarcoidosis, asbestosis, and interstitial. Claimants don’t need to present any additional proof to get the maximum amount.
If you’re suffering from interstitial lung disease and other severe pulmonary conditions, you can even ask for more than the maximum cap for non-cancer illnesses. There are limited occasions when the VCF would allow an exception to award an amount higher than the maximum.
Claimants who can show that their pulmonary lung disease is so severe that they’re suffering like someone who has lung cancer can ask for such an amount. Claimants who need to undergo lung transplants or require mechanical assistance from respiration machines every day are qualified to claim more under this exception.
4. Make The Most Of Maximum Caps For Economic Loss
The VCF also awards compensation for economic losses. You suffered from economic loss if you lost some earnings or opportunities to earn money. It also refers to situations where you had to incur out-of-pocket expenses for your medical treatment and medicines or if you needed to hire household services because you couldn’t move around as much as you could before.
The VCF’s permanent reauthorization set a cap of USD$200,000 on compensable annual gross income (AGI). This applies to each year of lost earnings. But this would be offset by any amount you may have already received from Social Security Disability (SSD), pension, or your private disability insurance, which is part of its thrust to keep the VCF fair to all.
To maximize your claims for economic loss, you can submit a determination from the SSD to the VCF, Workers’ Compensation, or your private disability insurance provider that your 9/11 related illness or condition has crippled or disabled you. If you don’t have SSA earnings, you can submit business records or tax returns in lieu of SSA records. You should also present medical certification that would support your disability.
If the victim died from the 9/11 related illness, the beneficiaries can claim compensation for loss of future earnings. They may present evidence confirming that the death was caused by an eligible condition resulting in a compensable loss.
Economic losses that can be included in the compensation claim refer to both past and future earnings. Included in the scope of economic losses which the VCF will compensate for is the loss of benefits related to your employment. This refers to pension programs, retirement contribution plans, and health benefits that you could not receive since you can’t go to work anymore.
There are legal limits or caps to the amount of compensation you can obtain for economic and non-economic losses resulting from a 9/11 related illness or condition. You should consider asking a lawyer to help you sort out your documents and claim to make the most of your claims. There are even instances when you can ask for more than the limits of your claim if it falls under the exceptions.