Super Lawyers
Illinois State Bar Association
Justia Lawyer Rating
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Avvo Rating
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers BBB Business Review

Burn Pit Exposure Lawsuit

On August 9, 2022, President Joseph Biden signed the Honoring are PACT Act legislation affording new benefits to veterans harmed through toxic substance exposure while in the military. The VA health care benefits are extended to military members exposed to burn pits and experiencing serious health problems.

An estimated 3.5 million veterans will benefit from the PACT Act (The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act). Additionally, survivors of veterans exposed to burn pit toxins will also receive the care and benefits they earned and deserve.

illness-from-military-burn-pit-exposure

Congress responded to many scientific studies that showed the connection of military burn pit exposure to numerous health problems. The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, are answering inquiries and questions concerning exposure to military burn pits that placed millions of men and women in the armed services at risk.

Many military burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan commonly incinerated waste from the military site within walking distance to military service members, workstations, and barracks.

Dangerous Military Base Open Air Burn Pits

For years, military bases have been burning waste at nearby burn pits throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Burn pits have been used at locations where short-term operations were done when there is insufficient time to construct and utilize hazardous waste management facilities.

These burn pits are highly toxic to the environment and human health based on numerous factors, including:

  • The products, materials, and human waste being burned at the base
  • The proximity, duration, and frequency of the toxic burn pit exposure
  • Current weather and wind conditions when the material is being burned in toxic burn pits
  • The level of toxic substances that became airborne from the burn pit

Many service members and civilian employees at these temporary operational sites were exposed to the gases, smoke, dust, sand, and other harmful particulates and toxic substances released from the burn pits.

Common Material and Substances Disposed of in Military Burn Pits

Military burn pit exposure at several short-term operational sites was highly harmful. The disposal of all sorts of wastes in burn pits released the toxic smoke of burning:

  • Tires
  • Computers and electronic devices
  • Medical waste
  • Motor oil, paint, thinners, and other flammable liquids
  • Batteries
  • Electronics
  • Wood
  • Unexploded ordinances and munitions
  • Food waste
  • Medical waste
  • Human waste
  • Petroleum
  • Lubricants
  • Metal and aluminum cans
  • Plastics
  • Paint

As an accelerant, many burn pits were ignited using jet fuel and other flammables, creating significant hazards that irritated the throat, lungs, and eyes. Any persistent military burn pit exposure to highly toxic gases and fumes could lead to acute and chronic health issues.

The Defense Department Acknowledges the Serious Health Hazards of Using Burn Pits

For years, the Department of Defense acknowledged significant health issues with utilizing burn pits worldwide. Officially, the military prohibits the use of open-air burn pits except in cases where there are no feasible alternatives to dispose of waste materials at the site.

Numerous reports indicate that in recent years there were nine facilities s operated by the US military and contractors where burn pits existed. These facilities were located in Egypt, Afghanistan, and Syria.

Department of Veterans Affairs Airborne Hazards and Open-Air Burn Pit Registry

In 2014, the Veterans Affairs established AHOBPR (Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry), which collects data for research identifying any potential health effects associated with airborne fumes.

Active duty armed forces members and veterans joining the registry share their detailed information on their long-term health conditions thought to be related to toxic exposure to airborne fumes while in the military.

Eligible veterans, active-duty service men and women, and contractors deployed to the Middle East or the Southwest Asia theater after August 2, 1990, or those deployed to Syria, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, are asked to participate.

Predictive Analytics for Burn Pit Health Risks

Recently, the VA has employed predictive analytics to identify which armed forces members may be at risk for health problems associated with military burn pit exposure. The data collected from AHOBPR is used to develop a predictive model to identify individuals most at risk for adverse health effects.

The VA has not released any information on the accuracy of the predictive model or how it is being used to help those at risk. If you have any questions, please contact the VA Burn Pit Help Desk at 1-800-827-1000.

The health risks associated with burn pits are severe and should not be ignored. If you or a loved one has been exposed to burn pits, you must get medical help as soon as possible and contact a lawyer to discuss your legal options.

A United States Supreme Court Case and Military Burn Pits

In June 2022, The United States Supreme Court ruled (5 to 4) for the plaintiff Army Captain Le Roy Torres, a former Texas State trooper who had served in Iraq. The ruling stipulated that as a veteran harmed by toxic burn pit exposure during military service, he could not face discrimination from his employer.

The case involved the Texas State police refusing to accommodate Torres' respiratory condition, thought to be associated with his proximity to burn pits while in the service and stationed 40 miles north of Baghdad.

The damage to his lungs subsequently required requesting a new position with the State of Texas because he could no longer serve Texans as a State trooper.

Open-Air Burn Pit Exposure Symptoms

Most military burn pits release highly toxic chemicals and fumes, leading to significant health issues. Many service men and women and civilian contractors were exposed to:

  • Particulate matter
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Polycyclic aerobic hydrocarbons
  • Furans and dioxins

The VA and the Department of Defense have studied the long-term effects and health concerns of open-air burn pit exposure. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Irritation of the throat, eyes, lungs, and nose
  • Coughing up black or brown sputum
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Wheezing
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Rashes
  • Nosebleeds
  • Chest pain
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

Presumptive List Involving Burn Pit Medical Conditions Outlined in the PACT Act

Numerous medical studies have identified medical conditions and cancers now presumptive under federal law. A presumptive condition involves exposure to a toxic substance while serving in the military and now has a legal presumption that the veteran's condition is service-connected.

The PACT Act (Public Law 116-151) extends the list of presumptive conditions to include more than 60 cancers and other diseases.

The presumptive list includes:

  • Brain cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancer
  • Glioblastoma
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphatic cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Melanoma
  • Neck Cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Reproductive cancers
  • Testicular cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Respiratory cancers
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the trachea and larynx
  • Adenocarcinoma of the trachea
  • Salivary gland trachea and lung tumors
  • Lung tissue-related large cell carcinoma
  • Lung carcinoid (typical and atypical)
  • Lung-related circle between carcinoma

The PACT Act also provides for the inclusion of burn pits on the list of service-connected exposure sites. The Act presumes that the eligible veteran’s medical condition is service-connected, making them eligible for disability compensation and healthcare benefits through the VA.

Other Medical Conditions Linked to Exposure to Burn Pits

Recent studies released by the Department of Veteran Affairs identified various medical conditions and serious illnesses by veterans and civilians exposed to military burn pit toxins. Commonly diagnosed health issues associated with toxic fumes include:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma that was diagnosed after service
  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus, psoriasis, and Crohn's disease
  • Birth defects in children
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic rhinitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
  • Emphysema
  • Granulomatous disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Infertility
  • Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
  • Kidney problems
  • Liver problems
  • Lung conditions including asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema
  • Miscarriages
  • Neurological problems
  • Pleuritis
  • Premature births
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Respiratory system conditions
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Skin conditions

If you have been diagnosed with any of the above medical conditions, you may be eligible for disability benefits and healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs. You should contact our personal injury lawyers to discuss your legal options as soon as possible.

Qualifying Plaintiffs for a Military Burn Pit Lawsuit

The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC are interviewing military veterans and active members of the armed forces as potential participants in a military burn pit exposure lawsuit. Eligible members included those who served in the US military or worked as a contracted civilian employee and were exposed to burn pits in:

  • Operation Enduring Freedom
  • Operation New Dawn
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Operation Desert Storm
  • Operation Desert Shield
  • Djibouti, Africa after September 11, 2001
  • Southwest Asia theater of operations on or after August 2, 1990

Military personnel stationed on land or in the airspace above the countries listed below might be eligible for VA benefits due to military burn pit exposure and a service-connected disability. These countries include:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bahrain
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Syria
  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen

Will There Be a Class Action Toxic Burn Pits Lawsuit?

The nearly 1000 veterans who filed civil lawsuits against KBR, the private companies owned initially by Halliburton) and other civil contractors were denied their day in court.

These private companies had operated burn pits and various foreign countries, exposing veterans and civilian employees to the harmful fumes caused by incinerating materials. The 4th US Cir. Ct. App. sided with KBR/Halliburton, finding they were not liable for their lack of safe waste management processes because the burn pits were under the direction of the United States military.

The US Supreme Court agreed with the 4th US Circuit decision, which ended the litigation for compensation. However, civilian contractors can now claim financial compensation under the newly enacted law and the Defense Base Act.

Legal Action: Do You Have a Burn Pit Lawsuit Case?

Any service men, women, and civilian contractors exposed to burn pits while assigned overseas at military bases should speak with the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, to pursue financial compensation.

Our legal team is currently determining case values based on the Defense Base Act, helping victims dealing with cancer, respiratory diseases, and other medical conditions exposed to toxic environmental exposure.

The Act extends the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act providing Worker's Comp. insurance coverage for specific Federal workers, including civilian contractors working overseas. These funds are also available to surviving family members seeking medical, rehabilitation, and wage benefits.

Defense Base Act Benefits

You may be eligible for compensation under the Defense Base Act if you are currently on or near a military installation. This defense base claim allows you to get medical, wage, and vocational rehabilitation benefits.

The insurance covers all reasonable medical care provided by your chosen doctor. Your entitled wage benefits depend on your disability:

  • Temporary total (TTD)
  • Temporary partial (TPD)
  • Permanent total (PTD)
  • Permanent partial(PPD)

The maximum weekly rate for compensation is usually half of your average weekly wage (AWW), up to a maximum weekly amount, or half the money lost due to a partial disability.

We advise that you work with us to pursue wage compensation. We guarantee that your insurance provider correctly calculates your AWW or wage loss. You may not receive all the disability payments you are entitled to if this figure is incorrectly calculated.

You may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services if you have a long-term disability due to your occupation disease.

Initiating a Military Burn Pit Claim

Have you been diagnosed with a severe medical condition that you suspect is related to your exposure to a burn pit? You can immediately request authorization and receive much-needed medical care and other benefits by completing and submitting disability claims (Form LS-201) with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can provide legal guidance on submitting and completing the claim to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.

The newly enacted PACT Act now provides extended financial compensation opportunities for military veterans and active members of the armed services who developed significant health problems from their exposure to burn pits.

Hiring Our Personal Injury Lawyers to File a Burn Pit Exposure Lawsuit

Do you believe your diagnosed medical condition results from military burn pit exposure? Do you suspect the toxic fumes and burn pit smoke caused your cancer or severe health problems?

Our law firm represents injured veterans, military personnel, and civilian employees harmed when exposed to hazardous burn pits. Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation. Let's discuss how you can receive maximum VA benefits for your injuries.

Our law firm accepts every personal injury case and military burn pit lawsuit through a contingency fee agreement, meaning you pay no upfront fees until your case is resolved.

All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

Resources:

Client Reviews
★★★★★
Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld. Michonne Proulx
★★★★★
Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own. Ethan Armstrong
★★★★★
This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you. Daniel Kaim
★★★★★
Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan! Giulia
★★★★★
Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa