As Thanksgiving 2015 approaches, some may wonder what we should be grateful for as our world copes with the barbaric actions of ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorist groups.
However, the death from cancer last week of Diane DiGiacomo, an ASPCA special investigator who helped rescue animals around Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks, reminds us that those of us who are not victims of workplace illnesses and death indeed have much to be grateful for. Rest in peace Diane.
Just a week before the 54 year old DiGiacomo died of the multiple cancers that ravaged her body, a New York State Workers’ Compensation Board Judge denied DiGiacomo’s claim for 9/11 cancer. While I have not yet seen the actual decision, Ms. DiGiacomo’s workers’ compensation lawyer publicly blasted the judge calling the decision “outrageous”.
With Paris burning and the re-authorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 law to protect first responder cancer victims pending according to new House Speaker Paul Ryan, Diane’s death brings the issue of workers’ compensation benefits for terrorism related first responders right to our professional and personal doorsteps. The pictures in the newspaper of Diane just prior to her death are heart wrenching.
But Diane’s was not the first death of an injured worker in 2015. Our office has handled other work related death claims this year that were never publicized, but were just as devastating to the families. Earlier this year, I handled a claim for a worker who is now a quadriplegic due to a tragic on-the-job related injury. All workers’ compensation attorneys across the country are on the front lines seeing these tragedies almost every day.
In 2014, according to OSHA, fatal work related accidents and illnesses totaled 4,679, or almost 13 workers lives per day. This was up from 4,585 in 2013.
So if you are looking for something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, please take a moment to reflect on the fact that you were not among the thousands who lost their lives so far in 2015 for no other reason than going to work.