Mesothelioma is a form of malignant cancer that has two unique characteristics: the first factor is that the only known cause of the disease is asbestos, and the second is that the disease takes between thirty and fifty years after the exposure to asbestos to exhibit symptoms. It is a relatively rare disease today, but tens of thousands of Americans have developed it over the past sixty years and thirty percent of those mesothelioma victims have been veterans.
Asbestos was used for thousands of products during the peak years of its popularity, which were 1940 – 1970. It has been estimated that the Navy alone used 300 asbestos containing products during World War II. There is no doubt that asbestos exposure was rampant for World War II service men and women, and that the highest risk of exposure was for Navy sailors and workers in Navy shipyards. Asbestos was used as insulation for boilers, in engine rooms, as fire retardant in ship interiors, as insulation for the miles of pipe aboard any large Navy vessel, for gasket and bearing packing in pumps and valves, and for a multitude of other uses.
All military veterans from World War II through Vietnam were exposed to asbestos flooring, ceiling tiles, roofing, insulation, wallboard, and various sealants and adhesives used in the construction of Army, Navy and Air Force facilities. The exposure to asbestos has never been a question for United States veterans, but it took the VA a long time to admit military responsibility for veterans who developed mesothelioma.
Veteran Mesothelioma Disability Claims
The guidelines for a disability claim for veterans with mesothelioma generally include these three points:
- A veteran must prove that asbestos exposure occurred while on active duty.
- There must be some evidence that asbestos is related to the veteran’s medical condition.
- There must be no evidence of asbestos exposure in any other period of the veteran’s career.
It’s difficult to link a disease to a cause when it develops decades after that cause occurred. Many veterans have struggled with these claims, but in recent years, as the number of civilian asbestos lawsuits has shot up, military rulings on these issues have become more reasonable. Often it requires legal support, but veterans who are able to establish that asbestos exposure occurred while on active duty and have subsequently have developed mesothelioma usually can make a good case for disability.
Veteran Mesothelioma Medical Treatment
There are a lot of stories told about veterans who sought medical attention for mesothelioma from VA medical centers having difficulty in getting an accurate diagnosis, during the days when the military was stonewalling its responsibility for asbestos health damage. That attitude is no longer in play, and veterans who are eligible for VA medical benefits and who can establish the likelihood of exposure to asbestos fibers during the course of their service can usually obtain treatment for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Today there are some top tier cancer centers operated by the VA and in some cases veterans with mesothelioma have been sent to them for treatment.
Veteran Mesothelioma Damage Claims
Veterans can’t sue the United States government for personal injury over any issue, including a lethal form of cancer developed while on duty. But the can sue the asbestos companies who manufactured the products that exposed them to asbestos, and thousands of veterans have done just that. In fact, there have been roughly 800,000 lawsuits filed by mesothelioma and asbestosis victims against companies who produced these products knowing that there were health hazards associated with asbestos products and the tiny fibers they give off when they deteriorate or are mangled in some fashion.
Asbestos companies have paid out billions of dollars of claims to people who were exposed to asbestos on the job and veterans who were exposed during active duty. Asbestos cases constitute the largest group of suits and settlements in the history of American civil law. Veterans with mesothelioma have been the recipients of many of those claims.
If you are a veteran and have developed mesothelioma or any other asbestos related disease you may be eligible for compensation. Contact us today and one of our attorneys will review your case with you, in complete confidence and at no charge.