Many of the losses suffered by victims of the September 11th attacks aren’t necessarily reflected in medical bills or in paychecks which never come. The trauma from that terrible day can be felt in pain, psychological or emotional distress, and the inability to enjoy life as it once was. While such losses can’t be seen, they are very real, and awards of Zadroga Act compensation can include damages for what is commonly referred to as “pain and suffering.” However, such claims have certain limitations and there are caps that have been placed on the amount that can be awarded for such “non-economic” losses.
A Physical Injury is Required for 9/11 Victim Compensation
No matter how much emotional or psychological pain and suffering you may have endured and are continuing to experience because of the 9/11 attacks, you cannot obtain compensation for those conditions unless you have also been diagnosed with a qualifying physical illness or injury.
The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) was established to compensate victims for their 9/11-related physical injuries and the losses that victims incur as a result. As set forth in the VCF’s Policies and Procedures:
“To be eligible for compensation, the Zadroga Act requires an individual to have suffered “physical harm or death as a result of” one of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001 or debris removal. Generally, the VCF provides compensation for the physical injuries and conditions that the WTC Health Program has found to be related to 9/11 and therefore are on the list of conditions established by the WTC Health Program.”
Simply put, if you did not experience any physical injury or condition as a result of the 9/11 attacks, but you only experienced emotional or mental harm, pain, or suffering, you are not eligible for compensation by the VCF.
Caps Placed on 9/11 Pain and Suffering Damages
If, however, you suffered from a VCF-eligible physical injury, your pain and suffering can be factored into the calculation of your award. Pain and suffering describes the physical pain, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life’s activities that a victim endures because of the 9/11-covered physical injuries or illnesses.
When the Zadroga Act was reauthorized in 2015, caps were placed on the amounts that could be awarded for non-economic losses, including pain and suffering. These caps apply to Group B (claims with award notices dated after December 17, 2015).
The caps on non-economic and pain and suffering 9/11 damages are:
- $250,000 for an eligible 9/11 covered cancer (Note: certain cancers will be awarded less than $250,000);
- $90,000 for an eligible non-cancer condition (Note: many non-cancer conditions will be awarded less than $90,000);
- The Reauthorized Zadroga Act does not place an “aggregate cap” on noneconomic loss but merely states that the loss for any type of cancer shall not exceed $250,000 and the loss for any type of non-cancer shall not exceed $90,000. For example, if a 9/11 victim suffers from one cancer and receives an award and then later develops a second different cancer, the VCF has the discretion to make an additional award of compensation up to another $250,000.
- A non-economic loss may result from both a cancer and non-cancer condition and/or may result from more than one type of cancer.
- The Special Master has discretion to consider the effect of multiple cancer conditions or multiple cancer and non-cancer conditions in computing the total non-economic loss in such claims.
Just because you may be eligible to obtain compensation for your 9/11 pain and suffering doesn’t mean you will automatically be awarded money for your pain and suffering. You must include detailed information and documentation to support your claim. The experienced and committed 9/11 attorneys at Turley, Hansen & Rosasco have assisted thousands of 9/11 victims and responders with their VCF compensation claims, including claims for pain and suffering damages. We work closely with our clients to prepare the strongest possible claims to obtain the maximum amount of compensation available.
If you have questions or need help with your 9/11 compensation claims, please call us today at 1-855-WTC-INFO (1- 800-887-7299) or fill out our contact form to arrange for your free 9/11 claim evaluation. We look forward to assisting you.