A package of bills meant to aid the victims and survivors of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was signed into law on Friday by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Broadly, the measures are meant to remove delays and bureaucratic red tape that have prevented access to the Victim Compensation Fund, as well as workers' compensation claims.
Hochul signed the measures into law days before the country will recognize on Sunday the 21st anniversary of the attacks.
"New Yorkers will never forget the horrific events of September 11, 2001, and we will never forget the bravery and sacrifice of the civilians and first responders who lives were forever changed," Hochul said. "As we mark the twenty-first anniversary of the terror attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, I am honored to sign these five new laws that will support and honor those whose lives were transformed on that terrible day."
The measures include:
- Simplifying the method for awards from the Victim Compensation Fund to include emotional damages. The fund is expected to issue a breakdown and allocation of the award between economic loss and non-economic loss.
- Requiring the Victim Compensation Fund to treat all victims of the World Trade Center attack equally and without delays. The measure is meant to ease the administrative burden that has been placed on family members, the fund itself and the Surrogate Court by having personal representatives of Sept. 11 decedents file and process claims, regardless of whether the person died off a Sept. 11-related illness or sustained an injury, but died of a different cause.
- Providing for a presumption of the Workers' Compensation Fund claims for any health impairment or death of a person who worked on the World Trade Center rescue, recovery and cleanup operations. The measure is meant to address the first responders and rescue workers who have a claim to benefits but have been denied without cause.
"Many 9/11 rescue and recovery workers developed respiratory symptoms and pulmonary diseases due to their exposure to World Trade Center dust clouds," said state Sen. Robert Jackson. "Changes to the Workers' Compensation Law is necessary to honor the sacrifices these heroes and their families made for our democracy and all Americans."