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What is the process for asbestos claims?

Victims of asbestos exposure can file a claim with asbestos trust funds and, if they are a veteran, with the VA as well, to recover compensation. However, because the legal process is very complex, the assistance of a specialized attorney is necessary.

answered by Channika DeSilva Gonzalez

Who can seek compensation for asbestos exposure?

During the last century, numerous industries, as well as the military, made use of asbestos, which inevitably led to exposure. Because asbestos is a known human carcinogen, exposure is responsible for the development of terrible diseases, such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. The majority of asbestos exposure occurred between 1920 and 1980, after which proper regulations came into effect with regard to the use of asbestos. While it is rarely employed nowadays, asbestos continued to affect the health of former industrial workers and veterans, as 20% of the former and 30% of the latter struggle with diseases that stem from asbestos exposure today. Thereby, people who were exposed to asbestos in occupational or military settings are eligible for compensation and can file a claim with the assistance of a specialized attorney, as well as their surviving family members, if they passed away.

While former industrial workers can recover the compensation they deserve from the asbestos trust funds of the companies for which they worked, veterans can also receive money from the VA in the form of disability compensation. Every year, the VA offers approximately $66 billion to veterans injured by military asbestos exposure and their family members. A claim needs to be filed with both asbestos trust funds and the VA, which has to be accompanied by solid proof of asbestos exposure and related diagnosis. Even though the victims of asbestos exposure can file a claim on their own, they have small chances of recovering the maximum compensation they are entitled to, as asbestos exposure cases are very complex and in-depth research must be conducted to gather sufficient evidence. For this reason, the help of a lawyer who specializes in toxic exposure cases is necessary.

What does the legal process in a case involving occupational asbestos exposure entail?

The first step of filing a claim to recover compensation for the injury you suffered as a consequence of occupational asbestos exposure is to contact a lawyer whose area of practice is toxic exposure. After you thoroughly explain your situation to the attorney, you will have to provide them with your employment records, as well as with your medical records, documents which will be used as evidence of occupational asbestos exposure and of related diagnosis. It is important to know that your employment records must state what work tasks involving asbestos you had to perform and for how long you were employed. As for the medical records, they must clearly explain the causal relation between your disease and asbestos exposure.

However, oftentimes, these documents are not enough to support a claim, which is why you need to work with a legal team who specializes in toxic exposure cases, as they will help you gather additional evidence, which may be essential for the approval of your claim. Following evidence gathering, your attorney will file a claim with the asbestos trust funds. Established by companies that used to manufacture asbestos products, asbestos trust funds provide former industrial workers with the compensation they deserve for their injury. Your attorney can file a claim with multiple asbestos trust funds if more than one employer exposed you to asbestos, which will result in you receiving the maximum compensation you qualify for.

Since it is very complex and time-consuming, the legal process in occupational asbestos exposure cases usually takes several months to complete. Depending on your diagnosis, as well as on the number of claims the asbestos trust fund you filed yours with has to process, you will receive compensation within three months to one year. For instance, people who developed mesothelioma as a consequence of asbestos exposure will have their claim expedited, as their disease is extremely severe and, in most cases, will end up claiming their life. On the other hand, individuals who suffer from non-malignant diseases, such as asbestosis or pulmonary fibrosis, will have to wait longer to receive their compensation. Finally, it is worthy of note that asbestos exposure cases have a statute of limitations of 3 years in most states, which, if expires, you no longer qualify for compensation. This should make seeking compensation a priority for you.

What is the legal process for veterans who were exposed to asbestos in the military?

Because asbestos was present in enormous amounts in the military, numerous veterans now struggle with terrible diseases as a consequence of exposure. However, veterans can also file a claim with the asbestos trust funds of the companies which manufactured the dangerous products they were in contact with, as well as with the VA, as they also offer compensation to veterans injured by asbestos exposure and other toxic agents in the form of disability compensation. A lawyer who specializes in asbestos exposure cases will be of great help during the legal process, which is very complex and requires solid evidence. Following the initial discussion with your attorney, during which you thoroughly explain your situation and how you were exposed to asbestos in the military, they will begin preparing your claim for submission, whereas their legal experts will conduct in-depth research to gather additional evidence to support your claim.

Your involvement in the legal process will be minimal, as you will only have to provide your attorney with your military and medical records. The legal team will efficiently take care of every aspect involved in the process. Eventually, you will recover the compensation you deserve from the asbestos trust funds and the VA. The average waiting time following claim submission for veterans is 4 months. Nevertheless, the waiting time may be longer if you have your claim filed with multiple asbestos trust funds. If you struggle with a life-threatening disease, however, the attorney will expedite your claim so that you can recover the compensation you need within the shortest time possible.

For what diseases caused by asbestos can you file a claim?

It is important to know that not everyone whose health was affected by asbestos exposure will qualify for compensation. There are certain diseases that have a definitive connection with asbestos exposure and these are the health problems that make one eligible for seeking compensation from asbestos trust funds or the VA. The following are the diseases which qualify a person for filing a claim for asbestos exposure:

Exposure to asbestos occurs when one inhales or ingests asbestos fibers from the air which, in occupational or military settings, would be released by various work activities. Since they are microscopic, asbestos fibers can easily travel through the bloodstream to any organ or tissue in your body, to which they will gradually cause inflammation and scarring. Within 20 to 50 years, a disease may occur as a result of the severe inflammation and tissue scarring asbestos fibers produced. However, if you struggle with a disease that does not affect your lungs or your airways, such as colorectal cancer or gastrointestinal cancer, you need to have asbestos fibers in your lungs in order to become eligible for filing a claim. A simple chest X-ray will reveal whether asbestos fibers are present in your lungs which, in the majority of cases, are.

The claim process for secondary asbestos exposure

Secondary asbestos exposure occurs when a person breathes in or swallows asbestos fibers from indirect sources. It would be a very common occurrence during the last century when asbestos was present in over 75 industries. Mostly affecting women, secondary asbestos exposure occurred preponderantly when they were washing the work clothes of their husbands who worked with asbestos, as employees were not required to wear protective equipment or change their clothes when their shift ended. Thereby, they would bring home significant amounts of asbestos on their clothes, skin, hair, and shoes. Because women would usually shake the clothes which were laden with asbestos before washing them, toxic fibers were released in the air. Thereby, secondary asbestos exposure would occur by inhaling or ingesting toxic fibers.

While the legal process in secondary asbestos exposure cases is considerably more complex than it would be if the person was directly exposed to asbestos, a lawyer with vast knowledge and experience in this area of practice will be able to help you recover the compensation you deserve. The legal process is very similar to that which involves occupational asbestos exposure, but more evidence is necessary to support the claim, which will also be filed with asbestos trust funds. To file a claim for secondary asbestos exposure, the person who developed a disease must provide the attorneys with the employment records of their family member who worked with asbestos, as well as with their medical records.

The legal process in wrongful death asbestos exposure cases

Oftentimes, the victim of asbestos exposure passes away before they decide to take legal action. However, their family members can file a claim with asbestos trust funds on their behalf within 2 years from the moment of death, as this is the statute of limitations for wrongful death asbestos exposure cases in the majority of states. The attorney will need the same documents necessary to file a regular asbestos claim, namely employment or military records and medical records, but also the death certificate of the asbestos victim. It may take longer for the family members of the deceased asbestos victim to receive the compensation they are entitled to. The wrongful death claim will also be filed with the asbestos trust funds of the companies for which the deceased asbestos victim worked for, as well as with the VA if they were a veteran who was exposed to asbestos while serving in the military. The surviving family members will receive money in the form of dependency and indemnity compensation from the VA. 

Our attorneys specialize in asbestos exposure cases and will help you recover the compensation you deserve within the shortest time possible

With 30 years of experience in pursuing compensation for the victims of asbestos exposure and their family members, our attorneys will provide you with quality legal assistance if you developed a disease as a result of occupational, military, or secondary asbestos exposure. Following a thorough discussion during which you explain your situation and your circumstances of asbestos exposure, our legal experts will begin gathering additional information and evidence to support your claim, which will subsequently be filed with one or multiple asbestos trust funds, depending on how many employers exposed you to asbestos, as well as with the VA, if you are a veteran. It is important to know that, because we work on a contingency fee basis, you do not have to pay our law firm unless our attorneys recover compensation for you.

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The statute of limitations refers to the amount of time you have to file an asbestos claim after diagnosis. It varies between one and six years, depending on the state you live in.

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