Category Archives: First Responders

We Protect Workers’ Rights: Partner Mike Gruber Is Installed at WILG President & Helping Injured First Responders

I just returned from the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group’s (WILG) Annual Convention. I am extremely proud to announce that one of my law firm’s partners, Mike Gruber, was installed as the president of this esteemed group of men and women whose common bond is representing the interests of injured workers and their families. Mike is the fourth partner from my firm to hold this office, which includes former partner Lew Heller, Senior Partner Edgar Romano, and me. My firm is proud to continue the tradition of national leadership in an organization that fights to protect injured workers.

This year we were updated on a number of interesting topics including one near and dear to my heart – benefits for first responders. My friend and colleague JR Boyd, a past president of WILG and a leader in his home state of Missouri, lectured about the dangers inherent in firematic duties.  As the daughter and sister of retired firefighters and sister of a current FDNY Lieutenant, I am always trying to keep updated on the latest issues affecting those I love. I have grown up knowing that at any moment tragedy may strike. 

Ironically, on the day of the lecture news broke of the death of New York City Firefighter Chief Michael Fahy. He was on the scene of a reported gas leak and while in the midst of an investigation, an explosion occurred and part of the structure fell on him. Chief Fahy graduated from law school but decided to pursue his dream as a firefighter. He was following in the footsteps of his father Thomas Fahy, himself a retired FDNY Chief.

Chief Fahy is but one of the many men and women who have sacrificed their lives for their City, their state, or their country. Tragedy can strike without warning in the form of a building collapse, an explosion, a flashover, or when a floor or roof is compromised. First Responders may end up burned, electrocuted, or receive blunt force trauma. These are just a few of the ways firefighting can turn deadly. Unfortunately, our firefighters do not just face immediate dangers on the job, but also must contend with lung issues, cancer, and heart conditions. Three hundred forty-three firefighters lost their lives during the attacks of 9/11, but so many more have died from the after effects of being exposed to toxins in the air.

While there are still nine volunteer fire companies in New York City that respond to calls in their neighborhoods and are covered under the New York State Workers’ Compensation System, the vast majority of residents are protected by a paid force of brave men and women who are employed by the City. The Fire Department of New York is the largest municipal fire department in the United States, employing more than 10,000 uniformed firefighters.

When firefighters get injured, they are paid a salary until they are able to return to work. Some firefighters who get injured on the job as a result of the wrong doing of another may be able to file suit against the negligent party. Some firefighters may receive a three-quarter disability pension if they suffer an injury and are unable to work but benefits may differ depending upon the type of injury sustained and years of service. As a result of the heart, stroke and lung bills, there is a presumption that disabling heart, stroke, and lung conditions are the result of employment as a firefighter. I have seen the damage the job has done to the people I care about and the untimely deaths of many whose health has been severely compromised as a result of the rigors of the job. While benefits do exist, one can never truly repay these brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect us.

 

Catherine M. Stanton is a senior partner in the law firm of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP. She focuses on the area of Workers’ Compensation, having helped thousands of injured workers navigate a highly complex system and obtain all the benefits to which they were entitled. Ms. Stanton has been honored as a New York Super Lawyer, is the past president of the New York Workers’ Compensation Bar Association, the immediate past president of the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy  Group, and is an officer in several organizations dedicated to injured workers and their families. She can be reached at 800.692.3717.

Prior results do not guarantee outcomes.
Attorney Advertising.

New Deadline For September 11th Claims

As we approach another anniversary of September 11, we will mark the day with a true feeling of sadness and tremendous loss, as that was a day that changed us all forever. Some of us lost loved ones, some sacrificed their health, and all of us lost our sense of security. Once again we will see the news coverage of those who perished on that fateful day and see the grim procession of officials, family, and friends of those who were lost as they make their way down to Ground Zero.

We will hear the heartbreaking countdown of the more than 2,000 names of those who died read aloud by their loved ones. We will cry with them as we watch their struggles with grief, and we will recall exactly where we were and what we were doing on that dreadful day. We will have trouble remembering what our lives were like before the Twin Towers fell, when the fear of flying was the fear of a plane malfunction or pilot error.  

We will have trouble remembering what it was like not removing our shoes at the airport or of restrictions on liquids in our carry-on luggage. Now, almost 13 years later, there still are thousands who have been affected by the aftermath of that horrific day. For those who sacrificed their health for the rescue, recovery and clean up of the World Trade Center for the first year through September 12, 2002, first and foremost I want to continue to extend my gratitude for what you did for our city and our country. Your service will not, and should not, ever be forgotten.

But, I also want to encourage you to preserve your right to Workers’ Compensation. If you are an employee or member of an entity that participates in the New York State Workers’ Compensation system, you should file a WTC-12 form whether or not you were injured, and whether you were a worker or volunteer. This applies to those who worked directly at Ground Zero, or at the Fresh Kills Landfill, on the barges and piers, and at the morgues. Unfortunately, there are slow-starting diseases and cancers that have been known to occur as a result of exposure to the toxins and carcinogens in the rubble and in the air.  

As a practitioner in Workers’ Compensation, my office continues to handle new claims regularly for serious medical conditions as a result of harmful exposures. Even if you have no symptoms currently, you still should preserve your future rights. The deadline to file this WTC-12 form is fast approaching – September 11, 2014. While New York State has previously extended the deadline, there is no guarantee that this will happen once again.

Please visit the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board website at www.wcb.ny.gov/WTC12, where you will find a link for the registration form. This form can be filled out on line, but then must be printed out, notarized, and received by the Board by September 11, 2014.  The Workers’ Compensation Board has set up a special hot line for any questions you might have regarding these issues. You can call tollfree, 1-855-WTC-2014. 

You have a right to protect your future as well as the future of your loved ones. If this doesn’t apply to you, I would ask that you please share this information with all those who might qualify so that no one is left worrying about their future.

 

 

Catherine M. Stanton is a senior partner in the law firm of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP. She focuses on the area of Workers’ Compensation, having helped thousands of injured workers navigate a highly complex system and obtain all the benefits to which they were entitled. Ms. Stanton has been honored as a New York Super Lawyer, is the past president of the New York Workers’ Compensation Bar Association, the immediate past president of the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group, and is an officer in several organizations dedicated to injured workers and their families. She can be reached at 800.692.3717.

Prior results do not guarantee outcomes.
Attorney Advertising.

Tornadoes: What Would Happen to Mark Lindquist in New York State?

Last week's tornadoes in the Southeast remind us that they can happen anywhere.

Thursday’s terrible tornado in North Carolina reminded me that these deadly events can happen anywhere, any time.

Workers’ compensation and tornados have been in the news a lot lately, partly because of the case of social worker and first responder Mark Lindquist, his miraculous survival, and his fight for workers’ comp.

Lindquist was at work when a deadly tornado touched down in Joplin, Missouri, last spring. That night he heroically saved 3 developmentally disabled adults, but in the 200 mile an hour gusts Lindquist lost all of his teeth, broke every rib, and ended up in a coma that lasted several months. His medical bills amounted to $2.5 million.

The Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, his company’s workers’ comp provider, initially denied the claim. However, recent news reports and public outrage resulted in a miraculous reversal by the insurance company on the issue of compensability.

So, what would have happened to Mark Lindquist if he had been employed in New York?

Well, in New York State Continue reading

Prior results do not guarantee outcomes.
Attorney Advertising.

World Trade Center dust and 9/11 first responders with cancer, time for U.S. Government to stop withholding benefits

9/11 first responders move smoldering debris

Many courageous first responders, who saved lives at Ground Zero, have since been diagnosed with cancer, and yet the U.S. government does not pay for their treatment. This Saturday, September 10, CNN will air Terror In The Dust, an investigation by chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta into the consequences of the deadly dust produced by the World Trade Center’s collapse. Gupta speaks with 9/11 heroes and medical experts about the consequences of the carcinogen-filled dust.

A new study released earlier this week by the New York City Fire Department provides good evidence of a link between 9/11 first responders and cancer. The study showed a 32% greater incidence of cancer among firefighters who worked at Ground Zero than those who did not.

The NIOSH study concluded that the 9/11 debris did contain known carcinogens.

The U.S. government does not pay for cancer treatments of 9/11 first responders. This is because Continue reading

Prior results do not guarantee outcomes.
Attorney Advertising.