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Loved ones of veterans who have died from asbestos-related cancers can also receive compensation

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on February 19th, 2020

Wartime experiences have led to a sharp increase in the number of veterans living with life-threatening illnesses as a result of exposure to harmful chemicals. Asbestos has devastated thousands of families, with more than 180,000 Americans dying from asbestos-triggered diseases between 1999 and 2013.

Because asbestos was used in virtually every military application where insulation or fireproofing was required, millions of veterans were placed in dangerous environments every day. Before the dangers of asbestos became widely known, the long and thin fibrous crystals were worked into over 300 military products that were constantly being handled by military personnel of all ranks. Breathing in air containing asbestos fibers can cause scarring of the lungs, which in time leads to cancers of the lungs and chest lining. According to most recent statistics, there are around 20.4 million veterans in the U.S. from all wars and all branches of service, all of whom may have been exposed to asbestos during their service.

Through unspeakable sorrow, military families suffer from a loss that can never be restored

After serving their country, veterans are left in anguish 20 to 40 years later due to the military's extensive use of asbestos products throughout much of the 20th century. Many are left frustrated, disillusioned and some are even dying prematurely from the unwilling exposure to the dangerous mineral. Veterans represent about 8 percent of the civilian population, however, they make up 30 percent of all known mesothelioma deaths in our country.

The spouses and dependents of military members who have died or have been seriously injured in the line of duty are eligible for a wide range of benefits, allowances, education assistance, and more.

The following major pathways can be followed that can lead to substantial compensation for families of thousands of veterans who have died from asbestos-related cancers:

  • Asbestos trust funds. If a member of your family suffered from an asbestos-related illness and did not take legal action during his life, we recommend you file a claim with the appropriate asbestos trust funds. Because asbestos trust fund claims require no litigation, the process of recovering compensation from one or multiple asbestos trust funds is much easier than through a mesothelioma lawsuit;
  • VA benefits. Qualifying spouses, children and parents of deceased veterans may be eligible for one or more important VA benefits. Eligibility for family members is based on the related veteran's eligibility. A general eligibility requirement for veterans is a discharge other than dishonorable (honorable, under honorable conditions, and general). Some of the most important benefits designed to help military families include the following:
    • VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for spouses, dependents, and parents
    • VA Education and Training
    • VA Health Care
    • VA Home Loans
    • Life Insurance
    • Pension
    • VA Burial Benefits
  • Wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims can provide compensation for loss of companionship, loss of future service, care or assistance the victim would have provided. If a member of your family has passed away due to an asbestos-related disease, a claim can be brought on behalf of their estate and any dependents that are left behind. A living asbestos victim has a time limit within which to bring a claim for compensation - between 1 and 3 years to take legal recourse depending on the state in which they live. In some states, only an immediate family member of a person who passed away from an asbestos-related disease is able to file for compensation. Some of the typical estate representatives for legal action are:
    • Spouses or life partners
    • Children, including adopted children or stepchildren
    • Parents or grandparents
    • Financial dependents

Eligibility requirements for family members

    • Proof of exposure - Family members must demonstrate how exposure to asbestos occurred while the veteran was on active duty and they also have to include Military Occupation Specialty, as well as the military unit location they were stationed at while exposure happened.
    • Significant impact - Surviving family members must show their loved one's death had a substantial emotional impact on their lives, such as loss of love, companionship, nurturing, and more than the victim would have provided.
    • Statute of limitations - When the victim dies, the statute of limitations for a trust claim begins immediately after the death.

    We fight for the rightful compensation your loved one would have deserved

    Unfortunately, veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces between the 1930s and 1980s are at the greatest risk of developing fatal diseases as a result of asbestos exposure. Family members of veterans bear a heavy burden. Because the family budget is drained by the costs of treatments, they sometimes have to leave their jobs to care for their loved ones. Worst of all, spouses, children, and other loved ones lose a member of their family far too soon.

    Bringing a claim for compensation on behalf of someone who has died can make the process more complicated, which is why it's vital that you have an expert asbestos solicitor on your side. A lawyer who specializes in asbestos cases can identify all of your possible sources of compensation and fight for your fair and just recovery.