The federal government is proposing to add mesothelioma to the list of cancers covered by the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act.
Our mesothelioma lawyers want to inform sufferers that while this news is encouraging, those who are currently diagnosed with mesothelioma need to further explore their options. That’s because while there’s no question the dust and debris that blanketed New York City in the wake of the terrorist attacks could have caused dangerous cancers and breathing ailments, it’s only been 11 years. We say “only” because mesothelioma is notoriously slow-moving, but still fatal form of cancer. Asbestos exposure can take many decades to manifest itself as mesothelioma. Once it does, it is quickly deadly.
While there is no question that some mesothelioma victims may in fact have a legitimate claim for federal compensation, it’s likely (especially for older sufferers) that the illness, while exacerbated by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, is probably rooted in some earlier exposure to asbestos. In most cases, this exposure happens over an extended period of time, typically when an individual has worked for many years with airborne asbestos materials.
That said, some scientists have indicated that because of the high levels of toxins that were present in the air after the 9/11 attacks, that level of saturation could potentially cause the cancer’s formation to accelerate. Still, there hasn’t been a great deal of study.
It’s also important to note that while you may indeed be entitled to this compensation, it’s not clear exactly how much you’ll be able to claim. Our New York City mesothelioma lawyers understand the total amount of the funds available currently stands at $4.3 billion, and that those who qualify might be eligible for funding to cover their treatments.
We also know that this illness, while causing swift deterioration upon diagnosis, can be cripplingly expensive, and also deprives a family of an income-earning loved one. The financial impact to them for all of this can be devastating — not only for lost income, but also for costly healthcare related to this fatal form of cancer. That means if someone can prove their mesothelioma diagnosis may have been caused by some other exposure in addition to their inhaling of the toxins released during 9/11, they should seek legal counsel and pursue that claim as well – and the sooner the better.
Now at this point, there has simply been a proposal by the National Institute for Occupational Safety to cover mesothelioma – and roughly 50 other cancers – to the list of ailments that the compensation act would cover. It still has to be approved.
The proposal to include it came after several months of study and intense lobbying by firefighters, police officers, construction workers, office cleaners and others who became sick after working in the dust-cloud of 9/11. The study involved a panel of doctors, community advocates and union officials. Prior to this proposal, it was only agreed that those with certain, lesser ailments would be allowed to claim coverage. These would be individuals with acid reflux, asthma and chronic sinus irritation.
Expanding that list is not a decision that the agency is taking lightly, and there are still considerable practical and ethical questions to be addressed. For example, if someone does have mesothelioma, how can it be proven that their sickness is directly linked to 9/11 and not some earlier exposure? The answer is it probably can’t. It’s not clear yet how the agency would handle those types of claims.
The Ferraro Law Firm provides comprehensive legal services regarding asbestos exposure and mesothelioma diagnosis. Call (888) 554-2030 for a free and confidential consultation. Offices in Miami, Washington, D.C., and New York City.