Asbestos exposure over the years has not been shared equally by all. Certainly those worked in the trades and in certain industries during the years before asbestos fell into disfavor have a high rate of health problems years later, as do their family members.
One group of Americans who have a particularly high rate of asbestos-related health issues are military service members. Before awareness of the dangers of asbestos became well-known, asbestos was widely used in a variety of military applications, causing many service members to be exposed. Exposure to asbestos was particularly high for members of the Navy, since most ships commissioned up until 1970 contained a lot of asbestos insulation.
Because of the long latency period for asbestos-related health problems, veterans who were exposed years ago are discovering health issues years later and seeking compensation. While veterans of the armed forces are not able to sue the government for exposing them to asbestos due to the rules of sovereign immunity, there are other potential avenues for compensation.
First of all, vets exposed to asbestos may be able to qualify for VA benefits based on mesothelioma or asbestosis. The requirements for qualification are not easy to meet, since it must be shown that there are no other incidents of potential asbestos exposure before or after the vets’ time on active duty. Veterans, like anybody else, may be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits if they meet those requirements.
More often than not, vets will have a better chance of obtaining compensation for diseases related to asbestos exposure by suing the company that manufactured the asbestos products which caused the exposure. Working with an experienced attorney is important, of course, to ensure that efforts to seek compensation from manufacturers are as effective as possible.
In our next post, we’ll look a bit further at seeking compensation for asbestos exposure from the VA, and how an experienced attorney can help qualifying vets pursuing this possibility.
Source: Military.com, “Asbestos and the Military, History, Exposure & Assistance,” Accessed April 6, 2017.