If you are a military veteran who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you can receive compensation without having to file a civil lawsuit against the companies that negligently manufactured or sold the asbestos products that caused his/her cancer.
Why Not File A Lawsuit?
While anyone having mesothelioma can certainly file a lawsuit, that person does not have to. Lawsuits are time-consuming, expensive and emotionally challenging. Success is by no means guaranteed as evidence of exposure to a specific product may not be available. There are procedural and evidentiary risks throughout the process. Also, lawsuits have become problematic in recent years. Many of the companies that made and sold asbestos-containing products are bankrupt and cannot be sued under federal bankruptcy law. The companies responsible for the veteran’s exposure may be among the bankrupt.
Filing a Claim with An Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust
One alternative means for veterans to recover compensation is by filing a claim with one or more of more than thirty bankruptcy trusts established to compensate mesothelioma victims provided that the veteran c satisfies the requirements of the claims process. Bankruptcy trusts provide a fraction of the victim’s total damages and losses, but if the veteran can satisfy their criteria, compensation is more certain.
Military Disability Compensation Is Another Alternative
Additionally, veterans with mesothelioma can recover the costs of their disability and medical care without having to file a lawsuit or a claim with a bankruptcy trust. The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) has set up a means to take care of veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their time of service and recognizes certain types of mesothelioma as compensable disabilities provided the veteran can provide certain basic evidence about his disease.
First, any veteran diagnosed with mesothelioma attributable to exposure while serving on active duty, even though it presented many years after discharge, is eligible, provided he/she has been discharged honorably. Active service means full-time service in the any of the uniformed branches. Additionally, a veteran who was exposed while on inactive duty but receiving military training also qualifies. If the veteran also worked around asbestos as a civilian, he/she must be able to demonstrate that more than 50% of his/her lifetime exposure occurred during the years of service.
Second, the veteran must provide medical evidence that he has either pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma, as the VA recognizes only these forms of mesothelioma as compensable.
How to Apply
The application process begins with a VA Form 21-526, Application for Disability Compensation and/or Pension, which the veteran files with the regional federal VA office.
The more details the veteran can provide with his/her application, the more likely it will be approved. He/she will need to provide with the application medical evidence that he/she has one of the two recognized types of mesothelioma. Typically, this consists of a biopsy report from a licensed pathologist. The veteran will need a medical opinion that his/her disease is attributable to exposure to a specific product. He/she will also need to convince the VA that more than half of his/her lifetime exposure occurred while on active duty or while on inactive duty training. The veteran must provide specific details, with examples, of every occasion he/she may have been exposed to asbestos during his/her lifetime. Since the extent of a veteran’s non-military exposure is also relevant, the veteran must provide information about what he/she did before and after his/her military service. The VA will review all the submitted information and then schedule a meeting with the veteran to determine whether he/she qualifies.
What Benefits Does A Veteran Receive With A Disability Compensation Award
The government provides specialized care for mesothelioma patients at certain VA treatment centers across the country, such as the Boston VA Healthcare System and the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System. Veterans are allowed a specific course of medical treatment that typically includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, depending on the extent to which the disease has progressed as of the time the application is approved. This course of treatment is very similar to the medical care a veteran would receive at private hospitals.
Veterans having mesothelioma also receive monthly compensation, currently fixed at $2,906 per month if single, and $3,068 per month, if married. Additional financial benefits are available if the veteran has dependent children, or has special need for care and attendance by another person. The surviving spouse of a veteran whose death was caused by a service-connected disability can apply for a monthly benefit commonly known as DIC. All financial benefits received from the VA are tax-exempt.
Should A Veteran Hire An Attorney?
Selecting the right lawyer who has significant experience with asbestos lawsuits to advise you about alternative means of recovering compensation is critical. The attorneys at Stern Law, PLLC have assisted hundreds of veterans successfully negotiate the VA claims process. We will contact each of your treating physicians and hospitals and obtain all necessary medical records and opinions that must be submitted with your application. We will help you present your exposure history, using every resource available, including our extensive database of testimony of thousands of fellow service members and others who may have worked with you at the same sites regardless whether any knew you. We will obtain the critical medical opinions as to causality. Finally, vigorously advocate your claim with each Trustee. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 to schedule your Free Consultation with one of our seasoned mesothelioma lawyers.