If you served in the Coast Guard before 1980, you might have been exposed to asbestos materials.
The U.S. Coast Guard used asbestos-containing materials extensively aboard its ships and stations, especially during World War II and for many years afterward.
Did your doctor diagnose you with mesothelioma likely due to asbestos exposure during your time in the Armed Forces?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our Coast Guard Mesothelioma lawyers are legal advocates for members of all military branches, including the U.S. Coast Guard.
Call our mesothelioma attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Asbestos is a mineral that can be separated into thin fibers and woven into fabrics for heat resistance and insulation. Asbestos was used in many products from the 1920s to the 1960s because of its affordability and fireproofing capabilities.
However, after several workers were exposed to asbestos and became ill due to inhalation, scientists have linked exposure to several serious health problems.
The U.S. Coast Guard is also responsible for protecting civilian ships and personnel from asbestos exposure during wartime. In addition, during times of military conflict, they are responsible for controlling and containing asbestos exposure from Coast Guard ships that have been damaged.
In the years following World War II, when military vessels typically used large quantities of asbestos in engine rooms to help control heat and fire, Coast Guard members were at increased risk of developing mesothelioma later in life due to their exposure during service.
U.S. Coast Guard Veterans Affected by Asbestos Exposure
According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) records, the following military ships used asbestos-containing materials:
- USS Basilone (CGD-8)
- USS Bougainville (APA-100)
- USS Copahee (CVE-12) (experimental ship for helicopters in 1946, redesignated as CVHE-12 in 1955)
- USS Epping Forest (LSD-4)
- USS Fiske (DD-842)
- USS Grayson (APA-ll6) (experimental ship for helicopters in 1946, redesignated as CVHE-12 in 1955)
- USS Harry E. Hubbard (DD-748) (experimental ship for helicopters in 1946, redesignated as CVHE-12 in 1955)
- USS Hector (AR-7) (MIA, presumed scrapped)
- USS Hermitage (LSD-34)
- USS Kankakee (AO-39)
- USS LaSalle (APA-3l2)
- USS Matagorda (AO-43)
- USS Mount Olympus (AGC-8) (experimental ship for helicopters in 1946, redesignated as CVHE-12 in 1955)
- USS Nantahala (AO-60)
- USS Nashaba (AKA-62)
- USS Norton Sound (AVM-1)
- USS Pine Island (AV-12) (experimental ship for helicopters in 1946, redesignated as CVHE-12 in 1955)
- USS Ponchatoula (AO-148)
- USS Prince William (CVE-31) (MIA, presumed scrapped)
- USS Salisbury Sound (AV-13) (experimental ship for helicopters in 1946, redesignated as CVHE-12 in 1955)
- USS Saury (SS-189) (MIA, presumed scrapped)
- USS Tulare (AKA-64)
- USS Windham Bay (CVE-92) (MIA, presumed scrapped)
- USS Windham Bay (CVE-92)
- Coast Guard Cutters that may have used asbestos:
- USCGC Sebago (WHEC-42)
- USCGC Comananche (WMEC-38)
- USCGC Bedloe (WPB-1326)
Except for the USS Grayson and USS Nantahala, all the above-listed military and Coast Guard vessels were used in World War II.
As a result, it is possible that hundreds or even thousands of former U.S. Coast Guard sailors are now disabled or dying from mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos while serving in these vessels during their time in the Armed Forces.
The United States Coast Guard currently has its own medical and investigative unit dedicated to the potential exposure of U.S. Coast Guard veterans or civilians to asbestos.
U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) Asbestos Unit
The CGIS Asbestos Unit is tasked with investigating allegations of foreign objects, such as insulation containing asbestos, on Coast Guard ships where coast guardsmen personnel served.
Coast Guard investigators must report any evidence of asbestos or another injury on a Navy vessel that potentially exposed a member of the Coast Guard.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is an aggressive, rare cancer caused by excessive exposure to the mineral asbestos over time. Usually, the victims were exposed to the deadly fiber decades before symptoms began to show.
The disease is virtually always fatal within a few years of diagnosis. However, some patients live as many as 20 years after diagnosis because of chemotherapy and other treatments.
One of the first signs of mesothelioma is fluid buildup in one or more cavities surrounding the lungs called pleura. Symptoms typically include chest pain, but they can also include shortness of breath, a dry cough, and hoarseness. Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma currently.
However, professional medical advice can recommend palliative treatment to ensure comfort. The U.S. Center for Disease Control explains the dangers of asbestos exposure as follows:
“Asbestos-related diseases have different latency periods or time from first exposure to the onset of disease. The latency period for mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer averages about ten years. In some cases, this first exposure may occur early in a person’s life. However, it is also possible for asbestos-related diseases to appear after many decades of latency.”
It’s important to note that many Coast Guard veterans and civilians exposed to asbestos materials in the U.S. and around the globe are continuing to develop mesothelioma every day, and they deserve compensation for their suffering. We urge anyone who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or related diseases to seek legal counsel from a professional experienced in such cases as soon as possible after diagnosis.
There are often misconceptions about who is entitled to compensation for being exposed to asbestos. Still, suppose you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or an asbestos-related disease.
In that case, it’s more than likely that you are entitled to some form of financial support from the responsible parties. For help finding a lawyer experienced in fighting for Coast Guard veterans, please contact our law office.
Who’s Responsible for Asbestos Exposure?
Several people, companies, and organizations were held responsible for asbestos exposure in Coast Guard and Navy veterans and civilians.
There are slightly different laws governing the status of civilian vs. military personnel when filing asbestos-related claims. Because of that, we urge anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma or other diseases to seek legal counsel from a professional experienced in such cases as soon as possible after diagnosis.
What It Means for Coast Guard Veterans to Be “Exposed” to Asbestos
The following is taken directly from the United States Department of Veteran Affairs website:
“For purposes of this statement, asbestos exposure means that you worked around asbestos or in an area where there was likely to be asbestos dust, and you breathed that dust. If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos, your claim will be adjudicated based on the information provided by your physician.”
Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure Risks in the Coast Guard
Family members of Coast Guard service members and shipyard workers are at risk of secondhand asbestos exposure. In addition, people working with and around asbestos materials and products could bring home contaminated dust and fibers on their clothing, dragging dangerous contaminants into their homes.
Washing contaminated clothing in the family’s washing machine and dryer spreads toxic dust and fibers and living in a contaminated home can cause secondhand exposure.
All family members may be at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma due to household exposure.
Benefits for Family Members of Coast Guard Veterans Exposed to Asbestos
Did you lose a loved one from mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, or another disease after their asbestos exposure? Then, you and your family are likely entitled to receive VA health care benefits.
However, the Department of Defense does not make it easy to get those benefits. It can be difficult to navigate the complex application process, but it is possible with the help of an attorney who specializes in helping Coast Guard veterans and their families.
We urge you to seek legal counsel from a professional experienced in helping military families obtain benefits.
Possible benefits include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Hospitals bills
- Medical expenses
- The decedent’s lost earnings and retirement benefits
- Life Insurance
- Pension benefits
- Tax-free monetary assistance from the Department of Defense’s Military Unaccompanied Housing Allowance program
Contact our law offices if you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos in the Coast Guard, Navy, Army Air Force, or other U.S. service branches. You have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease.
VA Disability Ratings for Coast Guard Veterans Exposed to Asbestos
Veterans exposed to asbestos who have a service-connected disability rating may be entitled to a host of VA benefits, including medical treatment and monthly compensation.
Service-connected disabilities are those that were caused or aggravated by military service. The responsibility lies with the veteran’s branch of the military to decide if a condition was caused or aggravated by military service.
For the most part, the United States Coast Guard veterans exposed to asbestos will be rated for disability based on their primary diagnosis. For example, if a veteran’s primary diagnosis is lung cancer (which could be an asbestos-related disease), they will receive a 10 percent disability rating.
If the primary diagnosis is mesothelioma, the veteran will receive a 50 percent disability rating. A 50 percent rating means that the veteran’s condition is severely limiting and qualify them for tax-free compensation of $2,788 per month in 2015.
United States Coast Guard veterans with mesothelioma might also be eligible for additional dependency and indemnity compensation if their asbestos disease is disabling in nature.
Secondary conditions include:
- Asbestosis (10 percent rating)
- Lung cancer (if diagnosed at any time after active duty, it’s presumed to be service-connected and 10 percent rating)
- Pleural plaques (20 percent rating)
How Coast Guard Veterans Can Apply for Benefits Associated With Asbestos Exposure
Veterans and those working in Coast Guard jobs exposed to asbestos during service to our country can receive disability benefits.
All coast guardsmen and veterans exposed to asbestos during service or who contact with it at a Coast Guard yard must prove that they were exposed to the toxic substance.
According to the Veterans Affairs Benefits office, “Any member of the Armed Forces who develops a disability because of injury or disease contracted while on active duty is entitled to receive disability compensation.
In addition, compensation may also be paid for disabilities that are determined to be caused by previous active military service.”
Ships and Planes
Coast Guard veterans with mesothelioma who may have been exposed while working onboard Coast Guard ships, in Army Air Force planes, or Navy vessels should file for VA benefits.
The Department of Veterans Affairs will require Coast Guard veterans to submit the following:
- Medical and service records
- VA Form 21-526 “Application for Compensation and Pension”
Service members exposed to asbestos should contact the VA as soon as possible. The benefits application can be submitted through a local or regional VA office or a mail-in process. Those who qualify for disability compensation will receive it on the first of the month following approval.
Qualification for VA benefits is not automatic. The complex process takes time, and Coast Guard veterans and active service members in the Coast Guard could be denied VA benefits. To increase the chance of approval, applicants should be thorough in completing official forms.
Any missing or incorrect information could delay financial compensation. However, once approved, claims are paid every month for life.
Getting Legal Help With Asbestos Exposure Claims
The VA provides veterans with a list of law firms experienced with claims like this one.
Are you a veteran who served in the United States Coast Guard, Navy, or any other armed forces branch and was exposed to asbestos?
If so, please speak with our law firms about your exposure to asbestos or other toxic substances. We handle potential claims against those responsible for exposing Coast Guard veterans to asbestos.
Filing for Coast Guard Veterans Affairs Disability Compensation Due to Asbestos-Related and Lead-Related Health Effects on Coast Guard Cutters
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the United States Coast Guard members and veterans serving in the Coast Guard are more likely than other veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer often linked to asbestos exposure.
The Department of Veterans Affairs provides the following explanation on its website:
“Veterans diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases may be entitled to disability benefits. In addition, disability compensation may also be payable for certain conditions related to asbestosis. These benefits are provided for veterans whose disability is associated with activity in the military, naval or air service.”
Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports that veterans who served in the military between 1917 and 1985 are 65 percent more likely than other men to develop mesothelioma. Therefore, the risk of Coast Guard members developing mesothelioma is significant.
“To date, little is known about the specific causes of mesothelioma in veterans,” said lead researcher Ryan D. Newton, Ph.D. assistant professor at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center.
Veteran exposure to asbestos is not limited to military service during World War II, however. According to the report, as of December 31, 2015, nearly 1 million veterans were on some form of disability related to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses.
Of those, more than 850,000 are actively receiving VA benefits or are already eligible to receive financial compensation.
Very Vulnerable Profession
Shipyard Coast Guard workers were the most vulnerable profession linked to Coast Guard service.
The VA recognizes two primary causes of mesothelioma in Coast Guard veterans, both of which are caused by asbestos exposure during military service:
- Exposure to asbestos dust or fibers in the Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard due to shipbuilding, repair, and removal work on Coast Guard vessels that used asbestos in their construction or to insulate boilers, steam pipes, and other equipment.
- Exposure to asbestos dust or fibers during training exercises in the Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard at one of the following locations:
- Helpsmeet Training Center in Michigan
- S. Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in California
- S. Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
- S. Navy Seabee Base Little Creek in Virginia
VA Provides Disability Benefits for Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos-Related Diseases Involving Coast Guard Members
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which handles disability claims for veterans suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases, has awarded more than $43 million to veterans filing claims since 2001.
For Coast Guard veterans suffering from mesothelioma or other asbestos diseases, the VA provides monthly compensation.
VA benefits also include free medical care (including prescriptions, dental care, and medical equipment) to Coast Guard veterans certified by the VA as disabled due to asbestos exposure. The amount of monthly compensation is determined by the severity of a disability.
The VA also provides a “presumptive service connection” for mesothelioma (and other forms of cancer) in cases where Coast Guard veterans can show they were exposed to asbestos during military service. As explained by the VA:
“Certain cancers and a disease of the respiratory system called asbestosis are presumed to be associated with exposure to asbestos during military service unless there is clear evidence to the contrary.”
Not every instance of mesothelioma or other related diseases can be attributed to asbestos exposure in the Coast Guard. However, veterans exposed to asbestos during their service in the Coast Guard may receive compensation for their disability.
Coast Guard veterans suffering from mesothelioma and other related diseases must review their military records and act immediately if they believe they could qualify for compensation. Unfortunately, VA does not automatically compensate every veteran with a qualifying diagnosis.
Veterans Exposed to Asbestos in the Coast Guard Undergoing VA Disability Compensation Claims May Experience Delays
Citing that it “takes time to obtain medical evidence needed to decide a [VA] claim,” the Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced that veterans who need to file disability compensation claims related to asbestos exposure in the Coast Guard may experience delays.
The Department of Veterans Affairs urged Coast Guard veterans experiencing financial hardship due to these possible delays, either because they are unable to work or “do not have enough money for groceries, housing or utilities,” to contact their local VA office “as soon as possible.”
Are you a veteran who served in the Coast Guard, Navy, or any other branch of the armed forces where you contact or inhale asbestos fibers or dust? If so, please consider speaking with one of these law firms about your exposure to asbestos and potential claims against those responsible for exposing Coast Guard veterans to asbestos.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney to Resolve Your Asbestos Trust Fund Claim
Did a doctor diagnose you with mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, or another disease related to military asbestos exposure? Do you believe the exposure occurred while serving in the military or working on Coast Guard shipyards or ships?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys have helped numerous Coast Guard veterans file claims against their employers for negligent exposure to asbestos.
If you were exposed to asbestos while working on Coast Guard vessels or at a shipyard, your employer might be responsible for compensating you financially for your injuries.
We accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements. This promise ensures you pay nothing until your case is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury trial award.