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New York Personal Injury Attorneys

Common Respiratory Illnesses in 9/11 First Responders

April 13, 2023 in

The 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 exposed thousands of first responders to a wide range of toxic substances. Exposure to asbestos, lead, pulverized concrete, and other building material has resulted in various long-term health issues. As a result, many have experienced multiple health issues from their time in the exposure zone

Below, the trusted NYC personal injury attorneys at SPBMCC discuss some of the most common respiratory illnesses and how to determine if you may have a claim as a result.

What are Some of the Most Common Respiratory Illnesses Experienced by 9/11 First Responders?

The health effects experienced by 9/11 first responders are complex and varied. Many have experienced multiple health issues because of their exposure to the toxins and debris at Ground Zero, including respiratory illness. 

Some of the most common respiratory illnesses experienced by 9/11 first responders include:

  • Asthma: A chronic respiratory condition that can cause inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
  • Chronic bronchitis: A respiratory condition characterized by inflammation and swelling of the bronchial tubes, it can lead to coughing, mucus production, and difficulty breathing. 
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): A group of progressive lung diseases that make breathing difficult, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. 
  • Interstitial lung disease: A group of lung diseases that cause scarring and inflammation of the lung tissue, leading to difficulty breathing and decreased lung function. 
  • Lung cancer: Exposure to the toxins and carcinogens at Ground Zero has been linked to an increased risk of developing lung cancer. Symptoms include coughing, chest pain, and difficulty breathing.

Many 9/11 first responders have experienced a range of respiratory illnesses as a result of their heroic work at Ground Zero. Asthma, COPD, interstitial lung disease, and obstructive sleep apnea are just a few of the 9/11 respiratory conditions that have been observed in this population. 

If you or a loved one has suffered from one of these conditions, it is important to contact an attorney who may be able to guide you to the necessary support and resources.

Do 9/11 First Responders Experience Other Symptoms?

In addition to respiratory problems, 9/11 first responders may have experienced cancer, gastrointestinal issues, skin conditions, neurological issues, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following the terrorist attacks. Characterized by anxiety and flashbacks, PTSD can be a response to all types of traumatic events. 

As a result of the trauma they experienced, many first responders who were on the scene of the 9/11 attacks have developed PTSD with symptoms that include flashbacks, anxiety, depression, and difficulty sleeping.

Do I Have a Claim for My 9/11-Related Respiratory Injury?

If you believe that you have developed respiratory diseases or illness related to your exposure to the toxic dust and debris at Ground Zero, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). 

Here are some steps to determine if you have a claim:

  1. Review the criteria: The VCF has specific eligibility criteria, which include being present at a 9/11 crash site, such as Ground Zero, the Pentagon, or the Shanksville, PA crash site, between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002. 
  2. Obtain a medical diagnosis: You must have a medical diagnosis of an illness on the VCF’s list of eligible conditions or that is linked to the 9/11 toxins and debris. The VCF website lists eligible conditions, and you can also speak to a health care provider familiar with 9/11-related illnesses.
  3. Gather documentation: To file a claim with the VCF, you will need to provide documentation, such as medical records, employment records, and other evidence to support your claim. You may also need to provide documentation of your presence at a 9/11 crash site.
  4. File a claim: You can file a claim online through the VCF’s website or by submitting a paper claim form. The VCF has specific deadlines for filing claims, so submitting your claim as soon as possible is essential.
  5. Seek legal assistance: You should seek the assistance of an attorney with experience handling 9/11-related claims to help you navigate the process and ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to.
  6. Filing a claim with the VCF can be complex and may take some time to receive a decision. However, the VCF compensates eligible claimants, including reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages related to your illness.

Contact the NYC Personal Injury Attorneys at SPBMCC Today

The law firm of Sullivan Papain has worked with the VCF since its inception, handling more than 2,000 related claims since 2002. With an excellent track record, our team helped achieve the highest Victim Compensation Fund award to date. The 9/11 VCF attorneys at SPBMCC know World Trade Center health-related law and have extensive experience in medical malpractice, general negligence, motor vehicle, and mass tort practices. If you would like to ask questions about potential VCF claims or the VCF process, please contact us today at (212) 732-9000 to speak to an experienced attorney. Click here to learn more about SPBMCC’s VCF claim process.

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