In recent weeks, a number of elected officials have begun to call for the creation of a federal fund – like the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund – to provide benefits for essential workers who become ill or die from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Although that approach sounds good in theory, in practice it may not work well at all. For one thing, there is no sign that the federal government is interested in setting up such a fund. It may not be created at all, or it may take years to set up. That is little help to workers who are sick and dying right now.
Another concern we have is that the September 11th VCF – in which our firm has represented hundreds of World Trade Center responders – did not cover medical treatment. That was provided by a separate entity, the World Trade Center Health Program.
In addition, if a COVID-19 VCF is set up and modeled after the September 11th Fund, the awards it provides would probably be less than the benefits that are included in the Workers’ Compensation Law.
For all of these reasons and more, we believe that workers’ compensation is the proper remedy for our COVID-19 heroes: transit workers, civil servants, grocery store workers, utility workers, police, and others who are putting their life and health on the line every day to provide vital services.
You can read our Op Ed article that was published in the New York Daily News on April 17 here. https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-coronavirus-victims-compensation-fund-20200417-aeg3qq6uozdvxccwarwruhjvr4-story.html