Sadly, the number of individuals who have passed away since filing a personal injury claim under the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is continuing to increase. If a claimant who has filed a personal injury claim dies, the VCF will stop processing the claim and/or payment of that claim until a Personal Representative of the deceased claimant is appointed. This protects the decedent’s personal information and ensures details about the claim are shared only with those who are authorized to access the information.
The first step that must be taken when the VCF claimant dies is to identify the Personal Representative. The Personal Representative is the only individual authorized to submit a claim or receive payment on behalf of a deceased individual. This is normally the individual who is appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction, such as a state surrogate or probate court, as one of the following: (1) the Personal Representative of the decedent’s will or estate; (2) the Executor of the decedent’s will; or (3) the Administrator of the decedent’s estate.
Once the Personal Representative is identified, the correct “next step” varies depending on the cause of death.
Where a personal injury claimant has died of causes unrelated to an eligible 9/11-related condition, the following instructions apply:
Step 1. Amend the original claim to add information about the Personal Representative and submit the required documents.
The Personal Representative will need to amend the original personal injury claim to identify him/herself as the Personal Representative. The Personal Representative should only amend the personal injury claim if the victim did not die as a result of an eligible 9/11-related condition. Visit the VCF website for detailed instructions on how to amend the claim, including a list of the documents that must be submitted to demonstrate appointment as the Personal Representative. The Personal Representative does not need access to the online claim in order to submit the amendment, the supporting documents, or the additional information listed in the steps below.
Step 2. Complete and submit required Exhibits and Claim Form Signature Page.
The Personal Representative must also complete and submit a new Claim Form Signature Page and applicable exhibits. If the claim was submitted prior to July 2016, the Personal Representative will also need to submit an Exhibit F. If the Personal Representative is represented by an attorney, the attorney may need to submit an Exhibit C for the law firm if one is not already on file with the VCF.
Step 3. The VCF will contact the Personal Representative.
VCF will review the information submitted by the Personal Representative and send a letter confirming that the Personal Representative is authorized to represent the decedent for the VCF claim. The VCF will contact the Personal Representative to request any missing information, and notify him/her of the decision on the claim.
Step 4. Complete and submit the Compensation portion of the Claim Form (if applicable).
The Personal Representative should follow these instructions:
- If the decedent did not already submit the Compensation portion of the Claim Form and required supporting documents, the Personal Representative should complete and submit the form.
- If the form has been submitted, but a decision not yet rendered, the VCF will contact the Personal Representative to request any missing information and will notify the Representative once a decision is rendered.
- If the VCF has already rendered a compensation decision on the claim, the Personal Representative does not need to submit any additional information specific to the Compensation portion of the Claim Form.
Step 5. Submit payment information for the Personal Representative.
The Personal Representative should submit payment information so the VCF can process any future payments. This may be a VCF ACH Payment Information Form or an authorization to pay a law firm account if the Personal Representative has such an agreement. If payment has already been made on the claim, the VCF will add the Personal Representative information and associated payment instructions to the claim for any future payments.
These steps should only be followed if the claimant died of causes unrelated to an eligible 9/11-related condition. In another blog post, we will cover how to handle a VCF claim if the claimant died of causes related to an eligible 9/11-related Condition.
A detailed list of the steps to take when a personal injury claimant dies can also be found on the VCF website.
If you need assistance with amending a claim or submitting a new claim, reach out to Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo at (800) 962-9954 and via SPBMCC’s contact page.