Pain and Suffering Damages Under the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
How Much are the 9/11 Victim Compensation Pain and Suffering Awards?
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) makes tax-free awards ranging from $10,000 to as high as $4,000,000. The VCF was established to provide immediate financial compensation to anyone – all downtown area workers, residents, students, and first responders – who get sick with any cancer or a breathing/digestive condition after the terrorist attacks of September 11th.
Those eligible for compensation may receive awards to cover medical expenses, economic damages such as lost earnings, and pain and suffering (also known as non-economic losses). “Pain and suffering” damages describe the physical pain, suffering, and the loss of enjoyment of life’s daily activities that a victim endures as a result of having become sick from a 9/11-related illness.
If you lived or worked in Lower Manhattan on or during the many months after 9/11, you were exposed to the contaminated air at the “Crash Site Area” (all of Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street). This toxic air is a proven cause of most any cancer, especially if the cancer was diagnosed many years later. Our 9/11 VCF lawyers are devoted to advocating for you through the VCF claim process and in pressing for an award for the full amount. We will evaluate and then advocate for the various items of damages you are eligible for under the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.
We secured $3.4 million for “pain and suffering” (non-economic damages) and “loss of earnings” for a Wall Street professional disabled by 9/11-related cancer.
What Are Non-Economic Losses?
Non-economic losses (also called “pain & suffering damages”) are awarded for intangible losses, such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. These losses are often difficult to quantify, so the VCF has developed an approach for evaluating and granting non-economic awards.
"Non-Economic Loss" Awards
“Non-economic loss” awards do not require that the claimant lose time from work or suffer a permanent disability. The VCF awards “non-economic loss” payment only for covered physical conditions. Unfortunately, the VCF specifically excluded awards for mental injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression.
There are many benefits available to those who are eligible for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. The VCF Special Master has wide discretion in setting the amount of an award and, as a result, payouts vary greatly, depending on how the facts of the claim are presented.
How "Non-Economic Losses" Are Calculated
The amount awarded for a claim for “non-economic losses” is calculated based on the severity of each condition and the impact it has on the 9/11 victim’s ability to maintain normal activities of daily life. The severity of each condition is determined by the WTC Health Program (a program related to the VCF), but additional supporting documents may be submitted that shows the impact of the condition on your life. The number of conditions does not determine the award amount. For example, it is typical that a person with many less severe conditions may receive a smaller award than a person with one severe condition such as cancer.
The Special Master has identified the following conditions as presumptively severe and debilitating and warranting the higher allowable non-economic loss awards: Cancer, Emphysema, Interstitial Lung Disease (including Asbestosis), and Sarcoidosis.
When impairment of daily life is considered mild or negligible, or if the conditions have resolved over time or are reasonably well-controlled, the non-economic award typically begins at $10,000 and may increase based on the severity of the condition. The Special Master has identified several conditions that warrant lower award amounts, but if severe impacts exist with these conditions, evidence of such severity is required.
Qualifying For Compensation For "Pain and Suffering" Damages
In order to qualify for a pain and suffering award, a claimant must have experienced a physical injury or have been diagnosed with a health condition related to the events of 9/11. The injury must have been documented by a medical professional.
New Caps on "Non-Economic" Damages
- $250,000 for individuals with covered 9/11 cancer types. (Note: Certain cancers will be awarded less than $250,000.)
- $90,000 for an eligible non-cancer condition. (Note: Many conditions that are not 9/11 cancers may be awarded less than $90,000.)
- The Reauthorized Zadroga Act does not place an “aggregate cap” on “non-economic” loss. For example, if a 9/11 victim suffers from one type of cancer and receives an award, and then later develops a second cancer, the VCF has the discretion to make an additional award of compensation of up to another $250,000.
- In cases where the 9/11 claimant suffers multiple cancers, our firm’s 9/11 attorneys have successfully argued and won many cases where we obtained awards greater than the $250,000 cap.
- The 9/11 VCF Special Master has the discretion to consider the effect of multiple cancers or conditions in computing the total non-economic loss.
Non-Economic Claims For Deceased Victims of 9/11
The VCF also offers compensation for non-economic losses to the families of 9/11 victims who died as a result of the attacks or subsequent debris removal. The maximum award for “wrongful death” non-economic losses is $250,000, plus an additional $100,000 on account of the spouse and each dependent of the decedent.
How Our Attorneys Can Help Secure Maximum VCF Award Amounts
The 9/11 VCF lawyers at Hansen & Rosasco, LLP always aggressively pursue claims with the VCF to ensure that our clients receive the maximum allowable awards. We accomplish this by documenting the claim with citations and summaries of medical records, obtaining medical reports and witness affidavits, and providing other information and documentation that supports an increased award. If the claim is too low as compared to other awards for your particular case and condition, we will recommend an appeal and represent you at a VCF Department of Justice hearing to advocate for a higher award amount. There is never any additional fee for us to prosecute and handle an appeal.
We believe the VCF claim reviewers and Special Master must know the real story about how your 9/11-related illness changed your life. You and your family are not just a faceless diagnosis. The VCF must know these facts to award the appropriate compensation in your claim.
Get started today by calling us at 855-585-1399 or filling out a contact form.
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