January 9, 2015

There continues to be a steady stream of revelations in our country of the harmful effects of certain injuries and exposures. The recent debate over treating head injuries in the NFL has topped the public conversation lately, and while the long-term effects of multiple concussions in professional athletes are tragic, so too are those endured by our veterans returning from duty.

For the latter, such tragedy has come in many forms over the years. The emerging understanding of avoiding and treating PTSD, as well as the decades-old issue of Agent Orange, lead the pack of life-altering consequences suffered by our military personnel in the line of duty.

But a relative newcomer to the conversation has been exposure to asbestos. It has certainly been known for many years that this substance is a potentially lethal carcinogen, but it is only now becoming more widely known just how inordinately military personnel were exposed during their service.

While the military does a good job of informing personnel on how to mitigate asbestos issues, it’s too late for veterans who were exposed to the substance decades ago, before the health hazards of asbestos were known or recognized.

Seeing the connections, many ailing veterans and their loved ones are seeking financial compensation for their illnesses. However, many lawyers for asbestos cases are encountering difficulty when handling the military aspects of veterans’ claims related to mesothelioma.

So there is now emerging a significant trend in specialized law firms. These attorneys are learning how to navigate the military health care system in order to be successful in getting claims handled quickly and efficiently.

It is a complex area of practice that has a steep learning curve. The particulars in which these practitioners need proficiency are numerous, but include some key elements.

Tracing Causation

Asbestos-related illness in a factory worker who spent 22 years in the same building is relatively easy to trace. But what about a soldier who hopscotched from facility to facility across a number of bases through a 20-year career? In order to establish the link between military service and mesothelioma, cancer, or other health issues, the attorneys must be able not just to retrace a service member’s steps, but also to establish what locations along that path created the exposure, and to create a compelling argument that the cumulative effects were sufficient to cause exposure.

Knowing Whom To Name In A Suit

the factory worker was part of a corporation, one which may have evolved over the years in name and ownership, but is ultimately reasonably easy to find. But who is really culpable when a veteran becomes sick? The Veterans’ Administration? The particular branch of service? The federal government? Knowing who should be held accountable is critical to assembling an effective case for the client.

Working Through Red Tape and Military-Speak

There are few things more complex than the federal government, particularly in times of war when much information is secured or heavily redacted. When a claim is underway, it can be very difficult to understand what is being said in many of the critical records for the case. An attorney with experience in translating military language to a manageable civil court dialect is necessary for an effective case to be brought.

Military-related mesothelioma suits aren’t the kind of legal work that should be handled by the trusted family estate attorney. Cases like these require specialized legal attention if the plaintiffs are to conclude the case in a way that is most beneficial to their financial and physical health.

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