The questions and answers below explain the link between asbestos and mesothelioma and will help you determine whether or not you should pursue a mesothelioma or asbestos exposure lawsuit.
WHAT IS ASBESTOS?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. It consists of millions of microscopic fibers. Because these fibers are fire resistant and very durable, they were incorporated into countless common products including insulation, fireproofing, plaster, joint compound, tiles, wallboard, siding, refractory materials, brakes and clutches, gaskets, packing, roofing materials and many others. Many individuals were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis without even being aware of it.
WHY IS ASBESTOS BAD?
The microscopic asbestos fibers enter the body through the nose and mouth. As a result of their shape, size and durability, these fibers cause damage to the lungs and other organs and are the cause of many different health problems. Asbestos fibers can remain in the body for many years, they do not go away, and can continue to cause disease many years after they are inhaled or swallowed.
WHAT DISEASES CAN ASBESTOS CAUSE?
Unfortunately, there are many diseases caused by asbestos. Inhaling or swallowing asbestos fibers can cause severe disabling and many times fatal diseases. Asbestos can cause both cancerous and non-cancerous conditions.
The most common asbestos related diseases are:
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining around the lung or abdominal cavity. It can often develop many decades after a person was first exposed to asbestos. Asbestos exposure has also been identified as a cause of lung cancer. The combination of exposure to asbestos and smoking is particularly dangerous and greatly increases the risk of an individual developing lung cancer. Other cancers can also be caused by exposure to asbestos. These include cancer of the esophagus, larynx, stomach and colon.
Asbestos related pleural disease, also called pleural thickening, pleural plaques, or pleural calcification is a scarring of the outer lining of the lungs. This scarring can get so severe that the lungs cannot expand to breathe.
A scarring of the lung tissue. This is an irreversible condition which also causes serious breathing problems.
WASN’T ASBESTOS BANNED A LONG TIME AGO? HOW COULD I HAVE BEEN EXPOSED?
While restrictions regarding the use of asbestos began in the 1970’s, asbestos products continued to be used for some time and indeed the United States has not banned all uses of asbestos as many developed countries have done. Many individuals were exposed to asbestos before any restrictions were in place. In addition, since asbestos products remain in many industrial and commercial buildings and homes, there is an ongoing exposure to products already in place which continues until today.
I DON’T KNOW WHERE I WAS EXPOSED TO ASBESTOS. WHAT ARE SOME POSSIBILITIES?
The possible exposures are endless. The most common asbestos exposures took place in the workplace. A variety of trades, including construction, shipbuilding, plumbing and heating, working with boilers and working at power plants, involved working with or around asbestos.
Other exposure occurred in the home either from contact with someone who worked with asbestos on their job or from work done in the home. Exposure may occur from household contact with someone who worked with asbestos or handling and washing that person’s clothes. It may have occurred during home improvements or performing brake and clutch repairs on the family car.
We can work with you to evaluate your exposure and employment histories to identify all the different ways in which you may have been exposed to asbestos in your lifetime.
I WORE A MASK WHEN WORKING IN DUSTY CONDITIONS, SO COULD I HAVE ASBESTOS DISEASE?
Unfortunately, not all masks and respirators were effective at preventing the inhalation of asbestos fibers. The size of the asbestos fibers that cause lung disease is so small they cannot be seen, so if you worked with or around asbestos products, you likely had more exposure than you think.
I WAS EXPOSED TO ASBESTOS ON MORE JOBS THAN I CAN REMEMBER. HOW DO I PROVE MY EXPOSURE? WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF MONEY I CAN RECOVER?
While multiple exposures may cause some difficulties, our attorneys and staff will work closely with you to construct an accurate work history. We will assist you in identifying the companies responsible for your asbestos-related condition. Even if you do not have a personal recollection of those companies, there are often co-workers or documents that can aid in establishing your asbestos exposure.
There are no limitations to what a jury could award you if your case goes to trial. In awarding damages, a jury is instructed to award an amount that would put you in the same place you would be if you had not been injured by asbestos. Your claims may include damages for medical expenses, loss of income, loss of enjoyment of life and companionship. These are sometimes difficult to estimate, and since asbestos-related injuries are not visible to the eye, jurors can have a hard time arriving at an award that fairly compensates you. In the event that a fair settlement offer is made in your case, your attorney may advise you to accept a settlement rather than take a chance on what a jury might award.
AREN’T ALL OF THE ASBESTOS MANUFACTURERS BANKRUPT? WHO’S LEFT TO SUE?
While the majority of asbestos manufacturers are bankrupt, most states allow you to file claims against the companies that sold asbestos products, installed or removed those products, and companies that manufactured, sold and installed equipment that had asbestos on or in it. Many of these companies are viable and can be named in a lawsuit. In certain cases, the owner of property may be liable for dangerous asbestos conditions in the building.
Many of the bankrupt asbestos product manufacturers, such as Johns-Manville and Owens-Corning, have established bankruptcy trusts to process claims of people exposed to their products. At times, these trusts may pay less than a claim is worth but can still provide some compensation for asbestos-related injuries. For some bankrupt defendants, significant compensation is available for persons with asbestos-related cancers.
CAN I SUE MY EMPLOYER?
Many states provide for workers’ compensation claims as a means of recovery against your employer. A workers’ compensation claim is a completely different case from the one you would file against the asbestos manufacturers, suppliers and installers. They are different claims filed in different courts.
CAN A FAMILY MEMBER BRING A LAWSUIT ON BEHALF OF A DECEASED VICTIM OF ASBESTOS?
In most instances, a family member who has been appointed the Estate Representative can bring a wrongful death claim for someone who has died from asbestos exposure. That person can also bring a claim for the loved one’s pain and suffering prior to their death. There are specific time limitations during which these claims must be filed so you need to speak to an attorney immediately. The damages claimed in these cases include loss of companionship and services of a loved one, the mental anguish you have suffered as a result of the death, future loss of financial contributions, funeral and related expenses, medical expenses and the pain and suffering your loved one had before death.
I AM NOT SICK NOW, BUT I AM AFRAID I WILL GET SICK FROM MY ASBESTOS EXPOSURE. DO I HAVE A CASE NOW?
If you have not been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, you do not have a recognizable claim at this time. Though it is perfectly understandable for you to be worried about your health, in order to recover damages for emotional distress related to future illness, you first have to be suffering from a current condition that may progress.
If you are fortunate enough to not be suffering from any asbestos-related illness at this time, you need to continue to be regularly monitored for asbestos disease. It is also a good idea for you to document your asbestos exposure now as memories usually diminish with the passage of time. It would be a good idea for you to record any asbestos exposure that you had over your career, where you were exposed and for how long. Also helpful are the names and addresses of any co-workers you recall, as well as the names of any of the manufacturers, suppliers or installers of any of the asbestos products or equipment to which you recall being exposed.
IS IT WORTHWHILE PURSUING AN ASBESTOS CLAIM?
Of course it is. You or a loved one has been injured through no fault of your own and should be compensated.
HOW LONG DOES AN ASBESTOS LAWSUIT TAKE?
The volume of asbestos litigation has placed a burden on the courts, and while the number of cases may be decreasing in some areas, the cases now being filed are some of the more serious disease cases that take time to resolve. We will work with you to get your case resolved as quickly as possible.
WHAT EXPENSES WILL I HAVE TO INCUR TO FILE A LAWSUIT?
Each relationship is different, but in many instances the expenses in your case will be advanced by the law firm. These expenses include such things as court filing fees, the costs of obtaining records, transcripts of testimony, the costs of expert witnesses, investigative services and travel expenses. Generally, the expenses will be deducted from your recovery if your case is successful.
Contact us today at 800-955-0815 or click here for a free case evaluation.
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