This three-part series explores issues relating to the major branches of the U.S. Military—
including the Navy, Army and Air Force—and exposure to asbestos, a highly toxic carcinogen that causes illnesses like asbestosis, mesothelioma and other types of cancer. In PART THREE, we outline the two kinds of mesothelioma claims that affected veterans are eligible to file.
Getting Mesothelioma HelpAfter Diagnosis
After being diagnosed with mesothelioma, your life is going to be quickly turned upside down. If you were working, you will no longer be able to, as your illness will most likely advance quickly, and treatment will become the number-one priority. Treatment itself is usually an all-consuming endeavor, often requiring geographically significant travel to one of the nation’s exclusively purposed cancer treatment centers.
And perhaps most unsettling of all, treatment is expensive. Most victims find their resources heavily taxed by medical care costs in the aftermath of a mesothelioma diagnosis—often placing a significant and lasting burden on families and dependents as well.
Mesothelioma Claims through the VA Office
The U.S. Military fully acknowledges the effect of asbestos on veterans, and those suffering from the illness are eligible to file mesothelioma claims through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Benefits available to mesothelioma-afflicted vets include disability compensation, free medical care at VA hospitals around the country and assistance for children and dependents of veterans after the beneficiary has passed away.
There are strict requirements for VA benefits. First and foremost, applicants must show evidence of military-based exposure, as well as diagnostic proof of the resulting illness. Usually, a VA medical evaluation will be required to substantiate both. Military records will also be used to verify the applicant’s self-reported enlistment information, including where he or she was stationed and in what occupational role. Other eligibility requirements include acceptable discharge status and proper completion of the claim application process.
Assistance in the claims process is available by going to your local VA Office and requesting filing guidance from a VA staff member, or by contacting a qualified asbestos attorney.
Filing a Mesothelioma Claim with the U.S. Court System
An experienced and knowledgeable attorney with an asbestos injury focused practice can actually help veterans file both types of mesothelioma claims optioned to them. In addition to a VA claim, vets harmed by asbestos exposure can file a lawsuit (through an attorney retained for legal representation) against the company or companies responsible for making and/or distributing the products that caused their asbestos exposure.
The lawsuit will not be filed against the U.S. Military or any civilian employer. Only documented defense contractors—usually companies that made and sold asbestos-based building materials or mechanical parts—will be held legally liable.
In most cases, these claims— after being properly filed with the applicable courts or courts—are settled by established corporate mesothelioma trusts before going to trial. Settlement amounts average around 1.5 million dollars and can go a long way in covering medical and other related expenses, in addition to compensating for any lost wages and providing some financial peace of mind for families and dependents that will eventually be left behind.