Photos and VideosMore Photos and Videos
New York City firefighters exit the walkway leading down into ground zero after finishing a shift on the cleanup and recovery effort at the disaster site of the World Trade Center March 7, 2002 in New York City.
Lawyers representing New York City, construction companies and 10,000 ground zero workers have agreed to a settlement that could pay $657.5 million to responders sickened by dust from the destroyed World Trade Center.
The settlement was announced Thursday by the WTC Captive Insurance Co., which was established to indemnify the city and contractors against potential legal action as they cleaned up the site after Sept. 11.
The agreement is designed to compensate thousands of police, firefighters, construction workers and other plaintiffs who claim they got sick at ground zero, according to sources familiar with it.
The deal must be approved by the plaintiffs who would stand to receive at least $575 million.
An independent third party will determine the size of individual settlements based on a plaintiff's chances of recovery and the strength of the case (for instance a 50-year smoker who worked at Ground Zero for two weeks may have lung cancer but may not be able to prove it came from the WTC)
Sources say all 10,000+ plaintiffs will be compensated, with cash payments of anywhere from thousands of dollars to more than a million dollars each. They'll also get insurance policies in case they develop certain kinds of cancer in the future.
In order for this settlement to take effect 95 percent of plaintiffs would have to agree to it. They'll have 90 days to decide.
The City and contractors will not admit any culpability as part of this settlement.
If they do, expedited payments are expected to begin within 30 days. Sources tell NBCNewYork that Judge Alvin Hellerstein is expected to announce a settlement on Friday.