Remembering 9/11: Largest Workers' Compensation Disaster in HistoryMonday, September 11, 2006
At 8:46 am five years ago today, a terrorist hijacked plane crashed into New York’s World Trade Center, setting off the worst workplace disaster in the history of America’s workers’ compensation laws. Over 2000 workers, from cleaners to company presidents, immediately died in the collapse of the Twin Towers, and many more suffered life changing injuries. In addition, many of the hero first responders are now sick as a result of working to save lives at Ground Zero.
One of my partners was meeting clients in our Queens office, overlooking Manhattan, that fateful morning and watched in horror as the Trade Center burned. Like many New Yorkers, our first thoughts were the safety of our families since we did not know the extent of the attack. Most New Yorkers (if not most Americans) will never forget where they were when they first heard of the attack. I was in my car on my way to the Workers’ Compensation Board in Hempstead listening to News Radio 88. The traffic helicopter initially reported a small plane hitting one of the towers by mistake, but as we know the story changed minute by minute from there. I turned around on Southern State Parkway to locate my wife and children. Once I knew they were safe, I then watched the subsequent collapse on TV in my living room. The rest of the day is a blur.
My own small community lost five police and firemen that day. To this day, our law firm is still assisting individuals and families with 9/11 related workers’ compensation claims. With the passage of the new "9/11Rescue and First Responders Act", I’m sure we will be dealing with the long term health implications and related workers comp claims long after I retire.
In your hectic schedule today, please take a moment to reflect and mourn the loss of so many workers five years ago today. Thank you.