NY Daily News Reports on Zadroga Compensation Act Lawyers Website ControversyMonday, December 27, 2010
As reported yesterday in the New York Daily News, the Law Firms of Worby, Groner & Edelmann LLP and Napoli, Bern LLP are catching heat from many angry 9/11 First Responders and victims about their new Zadroga Act website which was planned to attact Zadroga Act claims prior to the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.
Despite earning potentially over 100 million dollars on the recent lawsuits against New York City and angering many 9/11 widows and clients along the way in how their claims were handled (such as the extremely rare concept of attempting to charge clients interest on litigation costs – later denied by the federal Judge), they are apparently now trying to herd their current clients (at a time of extreme financial and emotional vulnerability) to retain the firm to file Zadroga Victims’ Compensation claims too. As reported in the Daily News, this includes texting messages to victims cell phones!
The Bottom Line – if you were a participant in any of the recently resolved 9/11 lawsuits against New York City and represented by a lawyer or law firm, you do NOT have to use that same lawyer or law firm to represent you in your Zadroga Victims’ Compensation Fund claim.
In addition, if you were previously represented by another attorney in a 9/11 New York Workers’ Compensation claim, a 9/11 WTC disability retirement claim as a police officer or firefighter from the NYPD or the FDNY, or any other 9/11 related victims claim, you should be aware that you have a right to a fresh pair of experienced legal eyes from a different attorney to handle you Zadroga Act claim.
The skill set needed for lawyers who handled the prior 9/11 litigation is far different from the legal skills needed to properly handle a claim before the newly re-opened WTC Victims’ Compensation Fund. Unlike the lawsuits filed against New York City, there will be no juries and litigation in federal District Court like the 9/11 cases before Judge Hellerstein.
Lawyer fees are capped at 10% for Zadroga Compensation Claims, unlike the court imposed 25% in the prior lawsuits. And as John Feal of the FealGood Foundation advises, their is no rush to sign a retainer with any Zadroga Claim lawyer or law firm just yet.
You should explore any law firms’ long-term commitment to 9/11 First Responders and victims before you sign any paperwork. Can you talk to the actual owners of the firm (as you should)? Find the lawyer that you personally feel comfortable with who will also get you the best results.
Important Fact: One misconception about the "so called benefits" of using a former attorney for your Zadroga Compensation claim must be dispelled. No lawyer or law firm can claim that you should use their services because they "already have your medical records". In New York State, you are the "owner" of the entire contents of your prior legal file.
In fact, Zadroga Act claims are particularly well suited for lawyers who concentrate in administrative law such as workers’ compensation claims, Social Security Disability claims, and NYC disability pensions. A thorough knowledge of these types of claims is essential since any money a client may have received from such sources may be an "offset" (a subtraction) from his final Zadroga Act settlement.
You can show up on your lawyers’ doorstep at any time and demand a copy of your complete legal file ( including medical records ) so you can bring it to another lawyer for review. Since most of these records are now scanned and kept electronically, a prior law firm could press one button on a keyboard to send you or a new lawyer your entire legal file, as long as it is done securely to protect your privacy.
Another easy method would be to simply sign an official New York State Office of Court Administration Authorization like the one here and have your new attorney arrange to get a copy of your file for you. This will keep you out of any awkward situations with your prior attorney, and avoid any undue delays.
As always, we will continue to keep you informed on your rights under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. Feel free to call Troy Rosasco toll free at 1-877-693-2529 x123 with any questions.