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Asbestos Exposure on 9/11

The effects of asbestos are only now starting to manifest in first responders, workers, and residents who were in or near the World Trade Center on 9/11. As a result, the true death toll may not be known for decades. Individuals impacted by 9/11 asbestos exposure may be entitled to compensation.

In this Sept. 11, 2001 file photo, a man coated with dust and debris from the collapse of the World Trade Center south tower coughs near City Hall, in New York. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

Twenty years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, the New York Times reported that deaths from 9/11 illnesses exceeded the death toll of that day. We are only now starting to see the resulting asbestos-related illnesses.

The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates the north tower of the World Trade Center contained up to 400 tons of asbestos. Due to the latency of asbestos-related illnesses, we may not know the true death toll of 9/11 for up to four more decades.

The Lanier Law Firm helps victims of 9/11 asbestos exposure, including firefighters, recover the compensation they need and deserve.

The Toxic Plume

When the World Trade Center collapsed, it released a toxic plume of dust that covered everyone in the immediate and surrounding area. It was highly alkaline, according to ABC News, and it contained a slew of toxins, including:

  • Cement
  • Gypsum
  • Glass fibers
  • Metal particles
  • Asbestos

The alkalinity made it highly caustic, which means it could burn the internal structures of the body. Those exposed to the toxic plume were often exposed over a period of days and months. They experienced double the rate of asthma and chronic lung disease and will likely face asbestos-related illnesses in the future.

Asbestos-Related Illnesses from 9/11 Attacks

Asbestos-related illnesses may take 10 to 40 years to develop and, in some cases, as long as 60 years. The primary asbestos-related illnesses include the following:

The first death of a 9/11 first responder as a result of mesothelioma occurred in 2019, as was reported by

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and
Compensation Act

The 9/11 Health and Compensation Act established two programs for the benefit of 9/11 victims who become ill as a result of toxic exposure stemming from the terrorist attack:

  • The World Trade Center Health Program
  • The Victim Compensation Fund

The program was originally signed into law in 2010 and was reauthorized in 2015 and 2020, making compensation and medical benefits available until 2090.

The World Trade Center Health Program

The WTC Health Program provides no-cost medical monitoring and treatment for certified health conditions related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The Victims Compensation Fund

The Victims Compensation Fund pays economic and non-economic damages to victims of 9/11 toxic exposure with certified health conditions, including those diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses.

Am I eligible for benefits?

You may be eligible for benefits for both programs if you belong to any of the following eligible groups:

  • First responders
  • Survivors
  • Residents, workers, students, or daycare attendees who were in the disaster area from September 11, 2001, to July 31, 2002

The disaster area includes the following locations:

  • Any area of Manhattan south of Houston Street
  • Any block in Brooklyn wholly or partially contained within a 1.5-mile radius of the WTC site

How much compensation can I recover from the Victims Compensation Fund?

Each case receives a court-appointed Special Master, who determines claim awards individually based on the severity of your illness. The Special Master is bound by limits on compensation, but has the discretion to override these caps in special circumstances. They will consider awarding both economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages include the following:

  • Lost wages
  • Loss of employment-related benefits
  • Loss of projected future earnings
  • Medical expenses
  • These benefits are available in death claims on behalf of the deceased as well.


Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are pain and suffering damages and similar damages related to the illness’ impact on quality of life.

For mesothelioma or other cancers, non-economic damages are recoverable up to $250,000. This amount may be increased if more than one condition exists. For non-cancerous conditions, such as asbestosis, the limit is $90,000.

The maximum death benefit is $250,000 plus $100,000 per spouse and per dependent.

How much time do I have to file a VCF claim?

Before you can file a claim, you must be registered. The registration deadline is not the same for everyone. In general, you must register within two years of the date that you knew or reasonably should have known that you suffered an injury because of the 9/11 terrorist attack. This is typically the date of diagnosis or death.

Registration gives you the right to file a claim in the future and is not the same thing as filing a claim. You may register at any time, even if you do not currently have a related illness. The VCF encourages early registration.
Once you are registered, you have until October 1, 2090, to file a claim.

Can I file a 9/11 asbestos exposure lawsuit?

You may be able to file a lawsuit, but if you are also filing a Victims Compensation Fund claim, the amount you win in the lawsuit will offset your Victims Compensation Fund award.

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA)

JASTA gives U.S. citizens who were harmed by acts of terror the right to sue a foreign government that sponsored such acts. In the case of 9/11, Saudi Arabia would be the defendant. This type of lawsuit is filed in federal court.

If you prevail, you do not have to attempt to collect your proceeds from the foreign government. Instead, you can recover your proceeds through the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund by applying within 90 days of the verdict.

How can The Lanier Law Firm help me with my 9/11 asbestos case?

The Lanier Law Firm can help you file a JASTA lawsuit and assist you with your VCF claim. Our mesothelioma attorneys can ensure you recover the maximum compensation available to you.

How much does a World Trade Center asbestos attorney cost?

The Lanier Law Firm would never wish for inability to afford counsel to stand in the way of recovering the compensation to which you are entitled. In order to remove this barrier, our firm does not charge an upfront retainer. Instead, if you win your case, we collect a percentage of your proceeds as agreed upon up front.

Why should I choose The Lanier Law Firm for my 9/11 asbestos exposure case?

The Lanier Law Firm has 25 years of experience helping asbestos exposure victims recover their well-deserved compensation. Our award-winning attorneys have a long history of substantial settlements and verdicts in asbestos cases, which include the following:

  • A $4.69 billion asbestos verdict on behalf of 22 women against Johnson & Johnson for ovarian cancer caused by asbestos-
    tainted baby powder
  • A $2.11 billion verdict upholding the verdict on behalf of the 22 women
  • A $115 million mesothelioma verdict on behalf of 21 Alabama steelworkers

Our location in the New York metro area is an extension of our commitment to provide skilled, passionate representation to our clients wherever they are. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness because of 9/11 exposure, you have a limited amount of time to register for benefits. Contact our New York Mesothelioma lawyers.

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