Veterans from every branch of the U.S. military were exposed to toxic asbestos-containing products during their years of service, resulting in hundreds of thousands of asbestos-related illnesses. New diagnoses continue every day. Sadly, 3,000 people will be diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2011, and approximately 1,000 of them will be veterans.
Navy veterans are particularly at risk for an asbestos-related disease, because the dangerous mineral was used in every ship and shipyard that the Navy built from the 1930s through the 1970s. Asbestos could be found below deck in engine and boiler rooms, and above deck in sleeping quarters and mess halls. Pipes, adhesives, and many other parts used on ships and machinery also contained asbestos. Mesothelioma lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm find it tragic that so many men and women who devoted their lives to serving our country are now at risk for a serious or deadly asbestos illness.
Since mesothelioma symptoms can take decades to appear, many veterans of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Air Force may not even know that they are suffering from an asbestos-related disease. Most veterans diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma are at least 70 years of age, and by that time, the disease has already taken its toll. A new study by the Journal of Clinical Oncology shows that the average survival rate for veterans who are diagnosed with mesothelioma is only seven months. Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer, and it is difficult to detect because early warning signs such as coughing and fatigue are frequently misdiagnosed as pneumonia or the flu.
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Malignant mesothelioma is one of the most common asbestos-related illnesses, but veterans are also at risk for otherincurable asbestos cancers. Asbestos lung cancer is another illness affecting the health of service members, especially veterans of the Vietnam War who were exposed to Agent Orange. Many Gulf War veterans are also starting to experience asbestos lung cancer problems, because they were exposed to depleted uranium and other deadly chemical agents. Studies show that tumors can form in the lungs two years after depleted uranium is inhaled, but these tumors can take several years to detect.
Unfortunately, the law does not allow veterans to hold the federal government responsible for asbestos exposure. And veterans must prove that their asbestos-related disease is linked to their service in order to qualify for disability payments. But an experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help veterans sue the companies that manufactured and sold dangerous asbestos products that made them sick. Although some of these companies are out of business or filed for bankruptcy to protect themselves from asbestos-related lawsuits, many still exist and are liable for compensating veterans and their loved ones. Veterans have the same legal rights as civilian employees to sue private companies whose negligence caused them to suffer an asbestos-related disease.
Many veterans who filed asbestos lawsuits receive significant compensation. A San Francisco jury recently awarded a 51-year -old Navy veteran and his wife $5.1 million in an asbestos lung cancer case. In addition to paying out large verdicts, other makers of asbestos products have agreed to large settlements with military veterans.
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Some states set strict deadlines for filing a lawsuit, so it is important that veterans contact a mesothelioma attorney as soon as they are diagnosed with asbestos cancer. Companies around the country who knowingly exposed veterans to dangerous asbestos products can be held legally responsible and forced to pay for expensive medical treatments. Asbestos was widely used by every military branch until the mid-1970s, and millions of service men and women were exposed to enormous levels of this toxic substance. With the help of an experienced mesothelioma attorney, veterans and their families can receive compensation for their suffering.