Estimates show that each year in the U.S. about 1,000 veterans are diagnosed with life-changing mesothelioma cancer. With about 3,000 new cases of the disease diagnosed each year in the United States, it’s easy to do the math: about one-third of all Americans diagnosed with mesothelioma are veterans.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that their exposure happened during the military, but in most instances, active duty jobs and tasks were indeed responsible for the development of the disease in these veterans with mesothelioma. So what can they do to receive rightful compensation for their suffering?
Contrary to what some veterans and their families might have been led to believe, you can’t sue the U.S. Military. The United States government is protected from lawsuits by the Feres Doctrine and the Federal Tort Claims Act. Instead, in most military cases, the defendants are other parties involved with asbestos in some way, including the manufacturers, designers, and suppliers of asbestos-containing items with which the vet may have come in contact during active service.
An experienced mesothelioma attorney can assist in determining who is responsible for your exposure. He/she is knowledgeable about the products/items most responsible for causing mesothelioma among veterans. In addition, he/she has most likely already represented former military who’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to their active service jobs, which may have included:
• Health Care from the VA – If it is determined that exposure was indeed service related, the veteran may be able to qualify for free or cost-reduced care at a VA hospital or a VA-approved facility. Note that there are many parameters that need to be met, so veterans seeking benefits should be prepared to prove exposure and to complete an abundance of paperwork. Cost of care at VA facilities is also linked to one’s income level so some co-pays may apply.
• Disability Compensation – When an individual applies for disability benefits from the Veterans Administration, their case is reviewed and the veteran is assigned a rating based on the level of disability. Usually, victims of asbestos-related cancer are given the highest rating and, therefore, the highest amount of compensation available IF it can be proven that the exposure to asbestos was military-related. Benefit amount might also be determined by other factors, such as whether or not the veteran is supporting dependents.
• Dependency and Indemnity Compensation – This benefit actually goes to the surviving spouse of any veteran who dies of a military-related condition. The spouse will need to file a claim to receive this.
Consult with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the often complex system that is the Veterans Administration. Also, chat with him about the possibility of filing suit against those companies who had a vested interest in the products that caused your exposure to asbestos. Compensation for you and your family may be just a few steps away.