For the thousands of innocent victims affected by asbestos exposure each year, it’s important to know that recourse is possible and legal help is available. Perhaps most importantly, asbestos exposure victims should know that they do not have to be in a financial position to afford legal representation-for valid, qualifying cases, legal fees are paid out of the settlement or trial award received, not the victim’s pocket.
Most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness-including other types of cancers, asbestosis and pleural effusion-did not even realize that they were at risk. This is because most victims of asbestos exposure did not even realize that they had come into contact with what is known to be a highly toxic and dangerous carcinogen.
Fortunately, there is a silver lining of hope for those who have suffered the physical and financial consequences of negligent and/or illegal asbestos exposure. Recourse and compensation is possible via multiple avenues, including toxic tort and workers’ compensation laws as well as well as disability claims through the Social Security Administration and (for veterans) the Department of Veteran Affairs.
PART IX: LEGAL RECOURSE FOR MESOTHELIOMA IN VETERANS
Making up around a third of the overall population annually diagnosed with mesothelioma, veterans of the United States Military are by-far the nation’s largest occupational group affected by toxic asbestos exposure. Legal recourse is especially imperative for these individuals, who were negligently exposed to a known carcinogen while serving their country, and there are multiple claims types that can be filed by affected-by-mesothelioma veterans-allowing this specific victim-group more options for recourse than any other.
Legal Recourse Option One: Personal Injury Claim
After being diagnosed with mesothelioma, veterans are urgently advised to file a special type of personal injury claim, called a toxic tort, through the U.S. Civil Court System. To do so, you will first need to choose and retain an experienced asbestos attorney-an action that must be taken as quickly as possible as legal claims are governed by strict deadline, making them the most time-sensitive of the three recourse options.
Legal Recourse Option TWO: VA Claim
All U.S. Military Veterans are eligible for certain benefits, available to them through the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Additional benefits, such as disability pay and full-coverage health care, are also provided for those injured while in the service. Once they have received a diagnosis of mesothelioma, veterans should file disability claim either at their local VA office or online in order to qualify for these added benefits, which can cover medical expenses as well as the cost of traveling for treatment and more.
Legal Recourse Option: SS Disability Claim
As of March 17, 2014, veterans who meet the requirement of a VA compensation rating of 100% permanent and total (P&T) are eligible to receive disability benefits through the Social Security Administration. Those who have malignant mesothelioma qualify for the P&T designation in that they are:
- Unable to do substantial work due to their medical condition, and
- Their medical condition is expected to last “at least one year or to result in death”