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Mesothelioma and VA Disability Sailor Claims: A Closer Look

After 1930 and before 1980, and especially after 1966, every ship in the fleet contained asbestos. 1966 was the year a fire aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal killed or seriously injured about two hundred people. As a result, the Navy doubled down on fireproofing material. Asbestos was the most effective, and more importantly least costly, insulation available. For about the next fifteen years, shipbuilders packed Naval vessels with asbestos from stem to stern, especially in boiler rooms and other highly flammable areas.

Shipbuilders, like sailors, usually handled asbestos without using adequate PPE (personal protective equipment). Since asbestos fibers are so small, people who work with or near this substance basically must wear hazmat suits. This level of protection usually was not available.

Infected shipbuilders have a number of legal options. Infected servicemembers are usually limited to VA disability claims. These victims are eligible for monthly cash as well as free medical care, for any purpose, at any VA medical facility. Despite some recent legal changes, these claims, especially toxic exposure claims, are quite complex. Only the best nationwide mesothelioma lawyer can obtain maximum benefits in these cases.

Medical Diagnosis

A solid medical diagnosis is the first component of a VA disability claim. This diagnosis must identify the medical condition and also establish the percentage of disability (20 percent, 80 percent, etc.)

When applicants file claims, the VA schedules a C&P (compensation and pension) medical exam. The results of this examination are often inaccurate.

Most VA doctors do not focus on toxic exposure illnesses. There is a good chance the applicant might see a doctor who focuses on another condition, such as injury-related conditions. Furthermore, in an effort to move cases through the system, the VA now employs contract physicians. These doctors often have limited experience.

The disability percentage is also difficult to determine, and not just for the reasons mentioned above. “Disability” is more than a medical term. It also has vocational, educational, and other implications.

For these reasons, a nationwide mesothelioma lawyer often partners with outside professionals, such as independent doctors and vocational experts.

Service-Related Connection

Occasionally, service records establish a service-related connection. For example, if Steve served on a battleship that was built before 1980 and later developed mesothelioma, there is probably a connection between these two things.

Generally, however, more evidence is necessary. For example, Steve might have served onshore, perhaps as a JAG lawyer. Buddy statements can prove that Steve often went aboard ships and was, therefore, at high risk for exposure. Additionally, if a non-service-related condition or habit, such as cigarette smoking, contributed to Steve’s cancer, his lawyer must prove that service-related exposure, as opposed to cigarette smoke, substantially caused his lung cancer.

Back Pay Issues

Generally, cash benefits are retroactive to the date of disability, not the date of filing. Veterans often try to “tough it out” and keep working after they become disabled. Frequently, a VA disability petition is a last resort.

This issue relates back to medical diagnosis issues. The doctor must include an accurate disability onset date. As mentioned, an independent doctor’s assessment is usually more accurate than a C&P doctor’s conclusion.

Contact a Diligent Attorney

Mesothelioma victims need and deserve significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced nationwide mesothelioma lawyer, contact the Throneberry Law Group. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.

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You are the reason my mother was able to cope with losing a loved one. You and your staff are always helpful and go above and beyond to help. You have been great to my family and especially my mother. My mother would always come out of your office with a peace of mind. R.S.
We are so appreciative of the results Michael Throneberry got for us! Michael Throneberry and the attorneys we worked with were focused on our peace of mind and seemed to care for my family and me as if we were family. They truly get it. We were thrilled with the result and would recommend this firm to anyone. M.S.
During one of my family's darkest and trying times, Michael Throneberry was there to provide help. His personal experience with mesothelioma made certain that he advised us like family. Thank you, you are wonderful. Do yourself a favor and let him help you during this trying time. He is a true 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. T.S.
Michael Throneberry gave me a whole new outlook on attorneys'! A very caring person who was more concerned with my health than a case. Truly unexpected! He explained possible conditions in english and even found the right doctors in my area. Prepared me for the right questions to ask the doctors so that I can understand my illness better. A great person and a great human being! Thank you. Greg