Because of its affordability and miraculous fire-resistant properties, asbestos use was nothing new in the years leading up to World War II. That was the time when the U.S. Navy began to use the miraculous mineral in nearly every part of each ship, from bow to steam. All sailors and officers serving on Navy ships shared some degree of exposure risks. Asbestos was nearly everywhere onboard: gaskets, block insulation, boiler cladding, flooring, wall panels, electrical cables, packing materials, adhesives, deck materials, bedding, fireproof materials, and even protective clothing.
Between the 1930s and mid-1970s, the U.S. Navy used asbestos extensively to build, repair and maintain its growing fleet of ships. Because of this, service members who experienced exposure to asbestos and incurred a disease while serving in the U.S. Navy, are eligible for compensation from asbestos trust funds and through benefits program developed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
Veterans Benefits Claim
U.S. Navy veterans may be eligible for several VA benefits, including disability compensation and health care. If you developed an asbestos-related disease as a result of exposure during your military service, then you can file a claim with the VA to receive compensation. There are two main types of benefits:
- Disability compensation - a monthly tax-free payment VA pays out only to veterans with diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis, lung cancer, or asbestosis;
- Dependency and indemnity compensation - claims are filed by surviving family members of a veteran who passed away as a result of service-connected asbestos disease.
To qualify, the veteran must provide proof of asbestos exposure while in the Navy. Other eligibility requirements include:
- Having a certified medical diagnosis that suggests the disease can reasonably be connected to asbestos exposure in the service;
- Having been verifiably exposed to asbestos while in the Navy. If you meet all these previously-mentioned eligibility requirements, you will then be tasked with compiling evidence to verify that you were exposed to asbestos while on active duty. This usually involves providing documentation identifying the location you served and how long you were there, marine vessels on which you were stationed, and your occupation during your time in the U.S. Navy.
- Having left the military on good terms. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers all honorably discharged military service personnel financial compensation to help pay for income, living expenses, and medical costs.
If a veteran regretfully perishes from a service-connected asbestos illness, a surviving spouse or children may seek compensation.
Veterans Diagnosed With a Terminal Illness May Have Their VA Disability Claim Expedited
The VA disability claim process can be difficult and frustrating and it often takes years to obtain a final resolution. Veterans can expedite VA compensation claims due to financial hardship, advanced age or terminal illness.
The VA prioritizes claims in which the claimant is terminally ill. A veteran can request that his claim be expedited based on a terminal illness but he should provide the VA with evidence of their terminal illness in order for the VA to flash the file.
Evidence of a terminal illness can take the form of a medical opinion or a note from a treating physician that states your illness is an end-stage disease that cannot be cured or adequately treated.
Asbestos Trust Fund Claims
Because asbestos has a number of unique and useful properties, including strength, flexibility, lightweight, and resistance to electricity, heat, and fire, hundreds of companies used the mineral in their manufacturing processes, equipment and machinery, products, and facilities.
Despite having knowledge that asbestos could cause a wide array of illnesses, many of these companies continued to manufacture asbestos products without informing shipbuilding, ship repair workers and sailors about the dangers.
When the full scope of the damage wrought by asbestos exposure began coming to light in the 1980s, many former asbestos companies have paid millions in settlements and formed asbestos trusts to pay victims. These asbestos companies were required to create asbestos trust funds as a condition of bankruptcy protection, in order to compensate victims that might come forward in the future, even if these companies ceased to exist. These claims are typically handled outside of a courtroom.
Similarly to claims filed with the VA, trust funds require documentation regarding your official diagnosis - generally, this includes your physician's diagnosis and statement, evidence of site exposure to asbestos, and medical documentation showing that asbestos affected your health.
We Offer Support and Assistance to All Navy Veterans and Their Families
Victims of asbestos who served in the Navy have the right to seek compensation that could cover the overwhelming costs that come with medical treatment and hospitalization and may provide additional sums for pain and suffering.
If you are a Navy veteran and victim of asbestos exposure but are unsure whether or what type of compensation you qualify for, we can help you learn more about the types of compensation you are eligible for. If you choose to work with an attorney, he/she can help you gather up the necessary documentation and then represent you through the process, making the claim smoother for you and your family so that you or your loved one can focus on your treatment and recovery.