From the 1930s to the early 1980s, thousands of veterans of the United States military were unknowingly exposed to asbestos during their service. While all branches of the military used asbestos, the highest amount of the mineral used in the shipbuilding industry exposed countless Navy veterans who breathed in asbestos fibers every day, while performing routine maintenance tasks or while the ships were being repaired in dry dock, without knowing the damage they could cause decades later.
Asbestos exposure has been determined to be a substantial contributing factor to lung cancer development for cigarette & tobacco smokers. Several studies found that people who both smoke tobacco products and are exposed to asbestos are anywhere from thirty to fifty times more likely to develop lung cancer when compared to cigarette & tobacco smokers who avoid asbestos exposure.
If you were exposed to asbestos and developed lung cancer, bronchial cancer, mesothelioma, or other types of pulmonary issues such as asbestosis, pulmonary fibrosis, diffuse pleural thickening, tuberculosis, pleural effusion, histoplasmosis, pleural plaques, COPD, pleurisy, lung spots, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pneumonitis, and rounded atelectasis, you are eligible to file an asbestos compensation claim, even if you have been or are a current cigarette & tobacco smoker.
The Eligibility Criteria for Asbestos Trust Funds
Asbestos trust funds were established to give those affected by the negligence of asbestos companies access to funds that might lessen their and their family's suffering. To qualify for payments, claimants will usually have to provide a number of key pieces of evidence to support their claim, including:
- medical history - a board-certified physician must sign a pathology report that provides a detailed description of what he/she sees during the microscopic exam;
- proof of exposure - the connection between the victim and the at-fault company's asbestos-containing product.
The most important requirements necessary to file a claim with one or more of the established asbestos trust funds are the ability to prove that the Navy veteran was exposed to a certain product that contained asbestos, and was diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease as a result, and to comply with the statutory limitations requirement. Every state has a time limit to file an asbestos claim of between one and three years from initial diagnosis.
If a Navy veteran dies before completing an asbestos trust claim, close family members, including spouses, children, parents, and other financial dependents, may be able to continue the process.
Am I Eligible for Disability Compensation From the VA?
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers health benefits and disability compensation to veterans who were exposed to asbestos and have been diagnosed with asbestos-related conditions. If you served in the Navy and know you came into contact with asbestos, even if you do have a history of smoking, you can successfully apply for VA benefits regardless of whether you currently receive money from asbestos trust funds.
Several criteria must be met to be eligible for disability benefits. Those who qualify must:
- have served active-duty, active-duty for training, or inactive duty training as a member of the Coast Guard, Marine Corps, or Navy, and received other-than-dishonorable-discharge;
- provide medical evidence proving their disease was triggered or aggravated by exposure to asbestos while in active military service;
- have received a disability rating for an illness believed to be caused by contact with asbestos;
- be able to link their service to their asbestos-related diagnosis.
It is essential to know that there is no time limit in filing a claim for disability compensation with the VA, unlike the statute of limitations for the claims filed with the asbestos trust funds. Consequently, if you are a Navy veteran affected by asbestos exposure during active duty, you can seek compensation from the VA anytime, even if you have been or are a current cigarette & tobacco smoker.
Special health care includes advanced and specialized services provided by several VA treatment centers across the U.S. These treatment centers provide free medical care to veterans affected by asbestos-related diseases. Apart from disability compensation and special health care, the VA also provides other benefits, such as Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. This type of monthly compensation is available for the surviving spouses of Navy veterans who lost their lives because of a service-connected illness associated with asbestos exposure.
If You Served in the Navy and Know You Came in Contact With Asbestos, We Can Offer Guidance and Advice
Filing a claim for either VA benefits or the asbestos trust funds, or both can be a daunting task. Unfortunately, many veterans never apply because the process just seems too complicated to maneuver through. Although both systems are supposedly designed for people to manage their own claims, a lawyer can streamline the claim process.
If you are a Navy veteran and you have an asbestos-exposure related diagnosis - no matter whether you are a former or current cigarette and tobacco smoker - please call us at 760.621.6147 and we will promptly connect you with the best professionals in your area, whether you are seeking medical assistance or financial compensation.