Mesothelioma and U.S. Coast Guard Veterans
U.S. Coast Guard veterans who served between the 1930s and the 1980s may have been exposed to asbestos, a dangerous mineral linked to cancers like mesothelioma. Thankfully, veterans with mesothelioma or asbestos-related diseases can seek justice and compensation through VA claims and lawsuits against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products.
Asbestos Exposure in U.S. Coast Guard Veterans
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that can be easily woven to create highly durable, heat-resistant products. These properties made asbestos-containing products valuable assets to all United States military branches for decades, including the U.S. Coast Guard.
Asbestos could be found in Coast Guard:
As asbestos-containing materials break down or become worn, they begin to release microscopic fibers into the air. If breathed in, asbestos fibers can irritate the linings of the lungs, abdominal cavity, heart, and testicles.
Asbestos Exposure Causes Deadly Diseases
Over 20 to 50 years, irritation from asbestos fibers can cause victims to develop deadly health problems like asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other cancers, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Although the U.S. Coast Guard and other military branches undertook major asbestos removal programs in the 1980s and 1990s, it could not reverse the fact that millions of people had been exposed during active duty.
Sadly, mesothelioma and Coast Guard veterans are forever linked — but those affected can take action to receive medical treatments and financial compensation.
First off, they can file a claim for benefits with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). VA benefits can help veterans with mesothelioma access medical care and compensation if their disease is linked to service-related asbestos use.
Additionally, those affected can work with a mesothelioma lawyer to potentially receive compensation by filing either a mesothelioma legal claim or an asbestos trust fund claim.
No legal action will be taken against the U.S. Coast Guard, military, or government. Instead, these legal claims seek compensation from the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products, who knew the health risks of their goods but sold them anyway.
How Were U.S. Coast Guard Veterans Put at Risk?
Some U.S. Coast Guard veterans have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma than others — particularly if they regularly worked with asbestos-containing products.
Coast Guard roles with the highest risk of asbestos exposure included:
- Construction workers
- Engine specialists
- Hull technicians
- Shipyard workers
Regardless of occupation, veterans who worked at a site that is known to have used asbestos in any capacity have been put at risk for developing mesothelioma and have the right to explore their options for compensation.
U.S. Coast Guard Ships and Asbestos Risk
Because asbestos was so easily available and so flame-retardant, it was widely used onboard Coast Guard vessels in an effort to reduce the risk of a fire at sea.
Did You Know?
It was almost impossible to find a place on a cutter untouched by asbestos, which could be found nearly everywhere below deck.
Below deck, asbestos could be found in:
- Boiler rooms
- Engine rooms
- Mess halls
- Navigation rooms
- Sleeping quarters
Since U.S. Coast Guard cutters often had poor ventilation below decks, those who worked there had a high risk of exposure as the fibers remained in the air. Even U.S. Coast Guard inspectors may have been exposed as they investigated vessels that used asbestos-containing materials.
Asbestos was also a component in many different shipboard products:
- Electrical wiring
- Fireproofing materials
- Floor tiles
Often, multiple asbestos-containing products could be found in a single ship.
Shipyards also put U.S. Coast Guardsmen at risk of exposure, as this is where asbestos materials were directly installed and removed from ships.
VA Benefits for U.S. Coast Guard Veterans
U.S. Coast Guard veterans can file for VA benefits anytime they have a disability or illness that is the direct result of an injury, disease, or event that occurred during their military service.
Veterans with mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos during their military service qualify to receive these benefits, even if the cancer does not develop until decades after they served.
VA benefits can help U.S. Coast Guard veterans in a number of ways depending on individual circumstances. For example, they may qualify for life-extending medical treatment from top mesothelioma specialists, financial compensation, or both.
Family members may also be eligible to receive compensation on a veteran’s behalf.
Types of VA Benefits
There are five main types of VA disability benefits available to Coast Guard veterans and their families, according to the VA.
The five major types of VA disability benefits are:
- Disability Compensation: This tax-free financial benefit is paid to a veteran for an illness or injury sustained during their service, even if the disability occurs after their service has ended. The amount is adjusted based on the individual circumstances of the case and the degree of disability.
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC): DIC is tax-free compensation paid to the surviving family of a service member or veteran, usually a spouse, child, or parent. This type of benefit is available if a service member dies during the course of their duty or from injuries sustained while on duty in the past.
- Special Monthly Compensation (SMC): This tax-free benefit is paid to veterans, their spouses (current or surviving), or their parents in addition to regular disability compensation. Special monthly compensation is available when there is a specific disability like the loss of a limb or when the disability leaves the veteran in need of attendance or help from another person.
- Additional Special Circumstances: These are more specific forms of disability compensation that a veteran may be eligible for based on their individual needs. Clothing allowances, automobile allowances, adaptive equipment, and individual unemployability are all forms of special circumstances compensation.
- VA Health Care: Through this program, veterans can seek medical treatment through the VA’s own medical system. If a veteran were injured or became ill due to an event that occurred during active service, all or part of their health care costs may be covered. This is helpful for mesothelioma veterans since the VA Health Care System includes doctors who specialize in treating this rare cancer.
Mesothelioma Veterans May Receive Maximum Compensation
Mesothelioma is a serious illness with a 100% disability rating from the VA, which means affected veterans would receive the maximum disability compensation once a claim is verified.
Eligibility for other types of compensation would be determined on an individual basis based on the needs and circumstances of the affected veteran.
The nature of the injury or illness, the degree of disability experienced, and the number of family members or dependents are all considerations that the VA will look at when making decisions about benefits eligibility.
Filing a Mesothelioma VA Claim for Coast Guard Veterans
After a mesothelioma diagnosis, it’s important to file a VA claim as soon as possible. Mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer that can spread quickly throughout the body, so receiving compensation and treatment as soon as possible can be very helpful.
When so much rests on speed and accuracy, working with professionals can make all the difference.
A mesothelioma lawyer can help veterans to collect the necessary information to file a successful claim and connect veterans to a VA-accredited Claims Agent.
Legal Help for Coast Guard Veterans with Mesothelioma
If you are looking to file for VA benefits, the amount of paperwork and information required to file a successful claim can feel overwhelming — especially after a shocking mesothelioma diagnosis.
Thankfully, working with a mesothelioma law firm relieves this burden, allowing you to focus on your health and their families.
Mesothelioma lawyers have access to sources of information that can help you determine when, where, and how you might have been exposed to asbestos.
This information includes:
- Information about when and where asbestos-containing products were made and used
- Which manufacturers made these products and if they are still in business
- Time limits when filing a VA claim, an asbestos trust fund claim, or a mesothelioma lawsuit
If you decide to take legal action, your claim won’t be filed with the U.S. military, government, or the U.S. Coast Guard. You will be holding the manufacturers responsible for your illness accountable.
You never realized that asbestos could cause you to get sick — and you deserve compensation to help yourself and your family. By filing VA and legal claims, you can take the power back from those who harmed you.
Get a free case review now to learn more about the types of compensation and benefits you may qualify for.
Easier Than It May Seem
Your individual situation may merit an actual lawsuit. However, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Trusts have been set up to benefit victims of mesothelioma in such a way that lawsuits and court appearances aren’t needed. Contact us today and you’ll see how easy it can be to get the compensation you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can file a mesothelioma claim?
A person who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma – as well as their spouse, child, or family member – may be able to file a claim to recover compensation from manufacturers of asbestos products. If the mesothelioma patient passes away, a family member or estate representative may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
How much money is in the asbestos trust fund?
An estimated $30 billion has been set aside in asbestos trust funds to compensate mesothelioma patients. Many companies that made asbestos products later filed for bankruptcy, so they created these trust funds to pay out future mesothelioma claims. If the company responsible for your asbestos exposure no longer exists, you may be entitled to money from their trust fund.
How do I file a mesothelioma claim?
To file a mesothelioma claim, contact an attorney who is experienced with these types of lawsuits. They will know where and when to file your claim, how to build the strongest case possible, and the best way to maximize compensation on your behalf.
What is the statute of limitations on mesothelioma claims?
The statute of limitations (deadline to file) for mesothelioma claims will vary depending on the state in which you file. In many states, it’s 2-3 years from the date of the mesothelioma diagnosis – though it may be longer if the mesothelioma patient has passed away. A mesothelioma lawyer can make sure your claim is filed within the required time frame.
How long do mesothelioma claims take?
Every mesothelioma claim is different, with circumstances and factors that are unique to that mesothelioma patient’s story. Though there’s no way to predict exactly how long a claim will take, an experienced mesothelioma attorney will ensure the process is handled as efficiently as possible.
Many claimants start to receive compensation in as few as 90 days after settling their mesothelioma claims.
What is the average payout for mesothelioma?
There is no guarantee of compensation when you file a mesothelioma claim, and countless factors affect how much money you might be able to recover (assuming your case settles). That said, 95% of these lawsuits are settled out of court, and the average settlement amount is $1-1.4 million.
How much is my mesothelioma claim worth?
Your mesothelioma case value depends on the specifics of your situation, such as the duration of your asbestos exposure, and the total cost of your mesothelioma treatment (as well as travel expenses and other related losses). The best way to figure out how much your claim is worth is to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer.
What type of mesothelioma claim do I have?
Most mesothelioma claims fall under one of four categories:
- Personal injury: You were exposed to asbestos (often through your job, or your loved one’s), so you file a lawsuit against the company that made the asbestos products.
- Asbestos trust fund: Similar to a personal injury claim, only the company in question went bankrupt, so you can’t sue them – but you may be able to access a trust fund they set aside for mesothelioma victims.
- Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits: U.S. military veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their service may qualify for related health care benefits through the VA.
- Wrongful death: When a mesothelioma patient passes away, their family member or estate representative may be able to file a lawsuit on their behalf, seeking money to pay for past medical expenses, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, etc.
A mesothelioma attorney can determine which type of claim makes the most sense for you and your family. (Some clients qualify for more than one.)