Before the mid-1970s, the Navy used asbestos-containing materials during the construction of naval ships, from submarines to aircraft carriers. Consequently, Navy ships and shipyards gave rise to severe asbestos-related conditions.
Shipyard workers most likely came in contact with asbestos during the building, maintenance, repair, or demolition of ships. Navy members came in contact with asbestos during the day-to-day operations on ships, where asbestos-based products were abundantly present in nearly every part of the ship, from bow to stern.
Over many years, exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to asbestosis, a chronic disease characterized by scarring in the lungs. This scarring is called fibrosis, and even after asbestos exposure has ceased, the scarring continues due to the body's interaction with retained asbestos fibers. Nonmalignant asbestos diseases include:
- pleural plaques
- pleural thickening
- pleural effusion
As non-cancerous asbestos diseases are often misdiagnosed, a general rule is to get a second or third doctor's opinion. With the risk of these illnesses becoming cancer high, asking for expert opinion outside the VA increases the chances of getting a precise diagnosis. Being correctly diagnosed is essential, as all compensation claims require medical documentation clearly stating the cancerous diagnosis, which qualifies you for compensation if it's a cancerous one. Tests like chest X-rays and CT scans are most important because when filing claims, another requirement is concrete proof of the malignant illness - pathology reports or radiographs.
VA Disability Rating of Asbestos-Related Respiratory Conditions
Each service-connected respiratory condition is evaluated and rated by the VA as a disability. They are measured on a schedule and receive ratings in percentage that will determine an overall disability rating and the amount of compensation. There are specific criteria followed in grading the functionality of the respiratory system:
- inhalation capacity of the lungs
- oxygen absorption in the lungs
- exhalation volume
The pulmonary function tests provide the data for evaluating and rating a respiratory disorder. The VA then applies the rating that accurately shows the patient's general condition. Given the complexity of the disability rating system, consulting an attorney helps you understand the whole process to ensure your benefits will be calculated correctly.
A Precise Diagnosis Can Improve Your Life Expectancy and Qualify You for Compensation
As with all asbestos-related diseases, an early diagnosis is vital. If you served on a ship before the mid-70s or worked in a Navy shipyard in this period, and experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or dry cough, you should go to the doctor and get diagnosed. The written diagnosis will provide you with the medical documentation needed for claims.
It is possible to develop asbestos-related pleural disease if you lived with someone who worked with and was exposed to asbestos. The asbestos fibers were carried home on their clothing and inhaled by others in the family. As victims of secondary asbestos exposure, these family members can also obtain financial compensation.
If you are a veteran victim of asbestos exposure and are unsure whether or for what type of compensation you are eligible for, we can help you learn more about the types of payments you qualify for. In the regrettable event that you are suffering from a cancerous disease caused by asbestos exposure, contact us, and we will assist you in connecting with experienced attorneys who can help in getting the compensation you deserve.