If you served in the Navy, be aware that this branch of the US armed forces used more asbestos than any other for decades. Inhaling asbestos dust can lead to lethal diseases.

Veterans of the US Navy were often exposed to asbestos and had a higher risk of mesothelioma and other cancers than other former service members. Also, many Navy veterans could qualify for VA benefits if they are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related health condition.

If you are a Navy veteran, were exposed to asbestos, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit, and/or file a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Contact our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation.

The US Navy and Asbestos Exposure

Some of the worst asbestos exposure in the US military happened in Navy ships and shipyards in the past several decades. From 1930 until the 1970s, the US Navy used high quantities of asbestos insulation and fireproofing materials on submarines and warships.

Installing and working on products containing asbestos fibers put a lot of dangerous asbestos dust into the air in tight spaces on Navy ships. Also, Navy shipyard workers often went home at the end of the workday covered in lethal asbestos dust. This led to secondary asbestos exposure to their family members.

Onboard Navy ships, the close quarters and poor air circulation allowed dangerous asbestos fibers to build up to where Navy members worked, ate and slept. This led to asbestos exposure for service members who did not even work with asbestos directly. Marines that were transported on Navy ships also were exposed to asbestos.

The Navy knew about the risks of asbestos exposure by 1939. Navy medical officers often issued reports and memos warning for Navy members to avoid exposure to asbestos as late as the 1950s. But because asbestos-related diseases can take three or four decades to develop, these worries were often ignored. (asbestos.com)

Finally, the Navy stopped putting asbestos in ships in the 1970s. But service members were still exposed to asbestos when fixing or decommissioning old ships well into the 1990s.

While shipbuilding and repair led to most asbestos exposure, Navy members also were exposed to asbestos in land vehicles, aircraft, and buildings on US Navy bases.

For instance, a subdivision in Oregon was cited in 2011 by the EPA for being contaminated with asbestos. It was the home of a naval base built at the end of WWII.

Navy Jobs With the Highest Asbestos Exposure

Any Navy job that involved working near asbestos increases your risk of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, including:

  • Boiler technician
  • Machinist’s mate
  • Pipefitter
  • Fire control technician
  • Fireman

Some members of the Navy even wore protective equipment containing asbestos. Firefighters often worse clothing made entirely of asbestos, and sailors wore heat-resistant gloves in ship gun turrets.

In 2019, the International Journal of Radiation Biology releases a report on mesothelioma rates for 100,000 Navy veterans who were involved in the testing of nuclear weapons in the 1940s through the 1960s.

Veterans in the study were chosen because they worked with nuclear weapons. But researchers discovered that being exposed to radiation was not a major risk factor for mesothelioma. Instead, the study showed the highest mesothelioma rates were for enlisted Navy personnel who were in close contact with asbestos.

Many Navy members were exposed to asbestos even if their jobs did not specify they would work with asbestos. There was still substantial exposure risk if you worked or lived near regular maintenance work on insulation or pipe fitting materials.

Workers in civilian shipyards who disassembled or overhauled Navy ships also have a higher risk of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Disassembling vessels and reassembling them disturbs asbestos materials that are old and brittle.

The Navy also sold many old ships for metal scrap in the 1990s. The ships often were sent to ports where the workers had not been trained to work with asbestos. This caused more workers to be exposed.

Methods of Compensation for Asbestos Exposure Victims

An asbestos settlement or verdict are two possible ways for Navy veterans and their loved ones to get help to pay for expenses related to mesothelioma treatment, lost wages and other damages.

A mesothelioma diagnosis from your doctor is hard to deal with alone, not to mention if you are faced with high costs for medical treatments and care. Plus, you may not be able to work due to poor health, compounding your financial problems. (mesotheliomadiagnosis.com)

A mesothelioma settlement or verdict is a way a patient and his family can obtain compensation for their damages. In most cases, the Navy veteran will file a legal claim against a company that supplied asbestos products to the Navy. They also may file a claim for compensation from the VA. A settlement is the most common way that a mesothelioma victim is compensated, but there are other options:

  • Asbestos settlement: A private agreement between the plaintiff and defendant where the latter provides the former with compensation, in exchange for a release of liability. Many companies that produced asbestos products will make a low settlement early on. The decision to take a settlement is with the mesothelioma patient and his loved ones. Settlements are binding legally and must be paid by the defendant.
  • Asbestos verdict: A legally binding decision by a judge or jury that decides if a company is liable for your asbestos exposure. If the asbestos company is found negligent and liable, another verdict decides the level of compensation that must be paid. Verdicts usually result in more compensation. But if the asbestos company is not found liable, you receive nothing.

Should you accept a settlement or go to trial? It depends on the following:

  • Amount of compensation. For a mesothelioma patient with a lot of evidence, they may want to go to trial and get more money.
  • Progression of cancer: A Navy veteran with late-stage cancer may want to take a settlement so he can get much-needed financial relief ASAP.
  • Aversion to risk: Some veterans may want to take a settlement because at least that money is guaranteed.
  • Evidence: An asbestos company may choose to go to trial and not settle if it thinks the plaintiff has a weak case.
  • Timeframe: Settlements are paid within days or weeks, while a verdict could take years.

Average Asbestos Settlements and Verdicts

Understanding your compensation options is important if you are considering an asbestos exposure lawsuit or claim. All cases are different, so average numbers may not apply to every Navy veteran with mesothelioma. But average settlements and verdicts can give you an idea of what other patients have gotten for their pain and suffering.

Recent reports state the average asbestos settlement ranges between $1 million and $1.4 million. Trial verdicts average approximately $2.4 million. Of course, your compensation amount can vary tremendously. Below are some recent case outcomes reported in the media:

  • 2003: The largest asbestos exposure verdict stands at $250 million for retired steelworker Roby Whittington. He sued US Steel for his asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. It was reported that he actually settled for less than $50 million, although the verdict was for a much higher amount.
  • 2016: A former naval shipyard worker named George Walker developed mesothelioma after he was exposed to gaskets containing asbestos.
  • 2017: A couple was awarded a $75 million verdict after the woman, Marlena Robaey, was exposed to asbestos for years.
  • 2018: Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $25 million after Joanne Anderson was diagnosed with mesothelioma after using baby powder containing asbestos particles.

Talk to a Navy Asbestos Exposure Attorney Today

If you or your loved ones were exposed to asbestos in the Navy, you could be entitled to compensation through a personal injury claim or lawsuit. You also could be eligible for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.