As the New York Disability Law Blog has done since its inception, today we pay respects, on the seventh anniversary of 9/11, to the families of all those killed or injured in this devastating terrorist attack. I truly hope one of our presidential candidates finally chases Osama Bin Laden to "the gates of hell". He has gone unpunished for far too long.
That being said, sadly, workers compensation lawyers and disability lawyers like myself are still litigating claims arising from 9/11. Shockingly, and with far too little publicity, insurance companies are still fighting these claims, causing further anguish and grief to the victims and their families.
Our firm recently successfully concluded two contested 9/11 claims under the new 9/11 First Responder law, passed in October 2007, which uniquely provided for 75% of a claimant’s lost wages for life. Our clients were EMT’s for voluntary hospitals in New York City suffering from 9/11 induced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although the insurance companies fought these claims tooth and nail due to the high financial exposure, we prevailed for these long overdue victims.
The New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF), the semi-public insurance company, recently fought a claim by a 9/11 victim by advancing the novel theory that his injuries were related to his service in Vietnam – despite the claimant working successfully full-time for over 30 years prior to 9/11. After we obtained the client’s VA medical records, we easily refuted the NYSIF’s silly argument. The workers compensation law judge ruled in our client’s favor earlier this week and he will receive workers’ compensation case and medical benefits for life. The New York Workers’ Compensation Board continues to do an admirable job protecting the rights of 9/11 claimants. In addition, the New York City Department of Health runs an excellent website on 9/11 related health problems.
Long Island’s own Congressman Tim Bishop recently urged additional federal funding for 9/11 victims at Stony Brook University’s World Trade Center Monitoring and Treatment Program. This excellent program is headed by Dr. Benjamin Luft and has been of great help to many of our clients. The program also operates in offices in Islandia and Nassau University Medical Center, with a new Hicksville office coming soon. The New York Disability Blog strongly urges Congress to fully fund this much needed program for 9/11 victims in Nassau and Suffolk.
It is clear that we will all be living with the painful legacy of 9/11 for at least another generation. Many more workers compensation, Social Security disability and long term disability claims are yet to be filed. May we all join together with compassion, empathy and financial support for every 9/11 victim.