Thanks to a significant reduction in the use of asbestos starting in the 1980s, most of us no longer have to worry about exposure to asbestos wreaking havoc on our lives. But despite those actions, exposure to asbestos still kills between 12,000 and 15,000 Americans every year.
Part of the reason there are still so many deaths is that victims often don’t see the effects of asbestos until decades after exposure.
And if you worked in an industry or location such as a navy ship where you experienced daily exposure to the deadly material, you may have questions and concerns.
If you’re worried about navy asbestos exposure, keep reading. We’re sharing with you the connection between asbestos aboard Navy ships and your health.
What a Navy Ship Has to Do With Asbestos Exposure
Many people equate asbestos exposure with buildings but buildings weren’t the only structures where you can find asbestos lurking. Prior to 1980, the US Navy built vessels using asbestos.
Asbestos on navy ships is everywhere. The Navy chose to use asbestos due to its resistance to heat and chemical damage, tensile strength, and its budget-friendly price tag.
And you’ll find tons of asbestos on ships. There are over 300 asbestos-containing materials used. Everywhere from sleeping quarters to mess halls and boiler rooms all contain materials made from asbestos.
Luckily, in the mid-1970 people started realizing the health risks caused by exposure to asbestos.
There May Still Be Asbestos Found on Navy Ships Today
While today there are fewer products containing asbestos aboard Navy ships and shipyards, there is still a threat of exposure. That’s because it’s still permissible to use asbestos if they can’t find a suitable alternative.
And while the Navy tries to remove as much existing asbestos from its ships, it’s no easy feat. Asbestos because more brittle as it ages. Removal is tedious and hazardous to workers and they must follow strict safety guidelines to keep themselves safe.
Also, despite the Navy’s actions to remove the hazardous material, it’s not uncommon to find it aboard today’s ships.
How Someone is Exposed to Asbestos
Unfortunately, exposure to asbestos is easier than you think. When someone works aboard a ship built using asbestos materials, they inhale the asbestos fibers. Those fibers embed themselves in the layer of tissue surrounding the lungs.
Asbestos causes genetic and cellular damage that cause tumors and mesothelioma cancer. And it doesn’t happen right away. Instead, the damage happens over the course of several decades.
And once the toxins are in your lungs, there is nothing you can do to remove them. They stay in your lungs forever, continuing to wreak havoc on your health.
Those who developed asbestos-related diseases while working aboard ships and shipyards filed lawsuits against the manufacturers of asbestos products. Veterans do not sue the Navy.
Diseases Common With Asbestos Exposure
While pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma are two of the most commonly known diseases caused by asbestos exposure, they’re not the only diseases these toxic materials cause.
Here is a list of the most common diseases asbestos exposure causes:
- Bladder cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Esophageal, laryngeal, and pharyngeal cancer
- Gastrointestinal cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Pleural plaques
Signs and Symptoms of Asbestos-Related Illnesses and Diseases
There are varying signs and symptoms of asbestos-related lung diseases. Much of it depends on which disease it is and how much damage to your lungs you have. And unfortunately, you won’t notice signs or symptoms until 10 to 40 years after your exposure to asbestos.
With asbestosis, shortness of breath during physical exertion is a sign. Dry coughs and feeling tired are also signs. Your doctor may also notice a crackling sound as you breathe in.
With pleural plague, there are often no signs. However, one sign is feeling pain on one side of your chest.
Lung cancer may show up as a bad cough that gets worse or won’t go away. Trouble breathing, constant chest pain, and coughing up blood are other signs of lung cancer.
Mesothelioma often comes with shortness of breath and chest pain.
Tests and Doctors Who Treat Asbestos-Related Illnesses
A doctor performs a physical exam and takes a chest x-ray to check out your lungs. They’ll ask you questions such as how long and how much asbestos you think you were exposed to.
Your primary care physician may refer you to a specialist if they find something. They may refer you to a Pulmonologist who specializes in treating lung diseases.
A radiologist who is trained to look at x-rays can give an accurate diagnosis. A pathologist can help study tissue samples for an accurate diagnosis.
A surgeon or oncologist can diagnose and treat your form of cancer.
Other tests may be necessary such as a chest computed tomography scan which shows a more detailed x-ray of your lungs. A biopsy can determine if you have cancer or mesothelioma.
Lung function test can show how impaired your lung function is. It’s also useful to track your disease over time.
Asbestos Exposure is Recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs
Thankfully, the US Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes most diseases caused by military asbestos exposure as a form of disability. As a result, you can file a VA disability compensation claim for both non-malignant and malignant diseases.
If you suffer from multiple diseases caused by exposure to asbestos, you can request financial compensation for both diseases. You have the right to apply for VA disability compensation for each disease you have caused by asbestos exposure.
And you can also file for asbestos trust funds compensation in addition to your VA claim(s). However, you must suffer from a diagnosed condition in order to file a claim.
It’s your responsibility to provide sufficient proof between exposure during your time of service and your current health condition. Denied claims happen often due to the patient’s inability to prove cause and effect.
Also, if you were dishonorably discharged, you are not entitled to compensation.
Everything You Need to Know About Navy Asbestos Claims
If you suffer from mesothelioma and/or asbestosis you do NOT have to provide any additional evidence to support your claim. That’s because these two illnesses are only caused by asbestos exposure.
However, those who are ill from other diseases have to submit written evidence provided by a medical specialist when applying for compensation from the VA. You can apply for benefits for health care and monetary compensation.
How to File a Claim
In order to file a claim for disability compensation, you’ll need to provide evidence to support your claim.
You’ll need medical records stating your illness or disability. You’ll also need service records listing your job or specialty. And lastly, you’ll need a doctor’s statement declaring a correlation between your exposure to asbestos during your military service and the illness and/or disability you suffer with now.
This is done to prove that at least 50% of your exposure to asbestos occurred while you were serving in the military. Otherwise, they can deny your claim stating the disease was caused by exposure during your life as a civilian.
How to Write a Summary Stating Your Case
Write your summary as if the VA rating officer reading over your case has no previous knowledge of asbestos products or even military job duties. Especially if your role in the military wasn’t around official construction or repair roles but rather your cleaning and maintenance duties put you in contact with asbestos dust.
There are several key details to include in your summary to ensure your claim is granted rather than denied. Mention what brand of the military you served in and the dates you served.
List all bases and/or ships you were assigned to as well as your role and duties aboard the ship. If you can, list all materials containing asbestos that you lived and worked around during your service.
Mention any activities that exposed you further to asbestos dust. And if the military failed to provide you with any asbestos safety training and also failed to give you protective gear when working near asbestos, put it in your summary.
Don’t Forget to Mention Your Civilian Life
Your goal is to convince the military that your illness and/or disability ties directly to your exposure to asbestos during your time in service. Which means you have to discuss your civilian life in your summary as well.
List every position you’ve held in your life outside of the military. If any of your civilian jobs exposed you to asbestos, mention this in your summary.
Discuss when and where you received your asbestos-related diagnosis. Lastly, talk about all the treatments you’ve received so far.
Required Documents Necessary to Make a Navy Asbestos Claim
Besides your hand-written summary, you’ll need a few documents to back up your claims. Begin by filling out the application for disability compensation (DIC).
Keep and include any medical records related to your asbestos-related illness. You’ll also need a medical nexus letter.
You will also need your military discharge papers and a summary discussing your exposure to asbestos.
Include any marriage and divorce documents, if applicable.
Let Us Help You
If you work or worked on a navy ship, you’re at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease or illness. And the process to apply for benefits isn’t easy.
We can help. Our firm is dedicated to helping victims get the compensation they deserve. Call us today to schedule a consultation.
If youve been injured, Stephen Babcock is standing by to help you. Your case and your future will be our top priority. When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free and after you hire us you will have Stephens 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee. If you have any questions about this article or want to visit with a lawyer for free, call Stephen at (225) 500-5000 or contact us here. Or if you prefer, feel free to take advantage of our live chat system. Get Even! Call Stephen! Stephen Babcock