What is the Zadroga Act?
The James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act became law in 2011. This Act created the World Trade Center Health Program, which was designed to help people pay for medical treatment of injuries received while responding to the 9/11 crisis. The World Trade Center Health Program and 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund helps responders (rescue and recovery workers) and survivors pay for medical costs not otherwise covered by their personal insurance programs. It is funded by the federal government and the City of New York.
Zadroga Act vs. Private Insurance
The Zadroga Act is especially important for responders such as police officers and firefighters who worked to rescue people and recover remains from the World Trade Center site. Private insurance companies do not cover work-related injuries or illnesses under their typical policies. The Zadroga Act was designed to help provide coverage or payment for these injuries in the event that the injuries sustained or the illnesses contracted were not covered under the private policies. It is important to note that the Zadroga Act funds should only be available after workers’ compensation and other insurance policy benefits have been exhausted.
Expiration of the Zadroga Act
As of September 30, 2015, the Zadroga Act was not renewed by Congress. For now, the program stands to continue running until September 2016, at which time the funding already in place will likely run out. Federal officials anticipate “challenges by February” and that the program will begin to shut down as early as next summer. A controversial issue surrounding the debate of whether or not the law should be permanently extended is the fact that some illnesses may not develop or become apparent until many years later. (For example, this veteran did not start displaying symptoms of what he believes to be a 9/11-related illness until this year, or 14 years after the attacks on the World Trade Center.) In those cases, the statute of limitations for certain laws (including workers’ compensation laws) may expire before the patients even become aware of the illness or its symptoms. As of today, it is estimated that there are approximately 72,000 beneficiaries enrolled in the program. The number of participants in the World Trade Center Health Program has increased at least ten times since September 2012.
If you or a loved one are suffering from injuries or illnesses related to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer dedicated to helping victims of these attacks and their families is critical. Time is of the essence regarding the benefits for which you or your family may qualify under the Zadroga Act. Consult with the attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC today and get more information on your rights and the compensation to which you may be entitled. It can be difficult to know where to begin and how to proceed in these situations. Statutes of limitations may apply in each case, so it is imperative to seek counsel today if you have suffered from an injury. Call (212) 397-1000 to schedule your free consultation today.