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November 01, 2001 4:20 PM
Our Heroes Deserve More Than a Broken Promise

 If we are bringing justice to the terrorists of Afghanistan, why can't we bring justice to our heroes, the victims and their families of the September 11th tragedy? Why didn't our heroes receive adequate workers' compensation benefits in the first place?

It is both unjust and demeaning for our heroes to again be victimized by an inadequate workers' compensation program that requires their families to rely upon the goodness of the American people's "cookie sales" and a haphazard charitable distribution program. Adding insult to injury are the flawed regulations that fill in the details to the Federal government's unbalanced program to insulate both the aviation and insurance industry from liability. A staggering amount of misinformation is being disseminated about the benefits available to our heroes of September 11th. 

This problem was highlighted by a recent rally at the Park Avenue Armory in NYC supported by the WTC United Family Group (http://www.wtcunitedfamilygroup.org), whose chairman, Anthony Gardner, lost his brother in the terrorist attack of September 11th. Speaker after speaker highlighted the system's failure to adequately compensate the victims and their families. NY Attorney General Elliot Spitzer declared the Federal compensation program to be "wrong and unfair," noting, "It is unfair to give up the right to sue without a hearing." He denounced the regulations that establish barriers to recovery based upon receipt of immediate medical treatment and limitations allowing deduction of charitable benefits as a "collateral source". NY Governor Pataki received 7 standing ovations as he denounced the Federal program as "terrible" and declared that "the regulations make no sense" and that they "do not do justice." 

As the world focuses upon the ruins of the collapsed buildings in NY, it also focuses upon the failure of the workers' compensation system to meet the needs of the victims. The massive spotlights on ground zero not only reveal the wreckage of September 11th but also the broken promise of adequate compensation to the heroes and their families. If trial lawyers really care, they would support a program to repair the broken promise

Jon L. Gelman, Attorney at Law, Wayne, NJ 

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