The mineral asbestos has a long history, and was widely used in the construction and ship building industries from the late 19th Century and well into the 1970s. Two serious conditions caused by asbestos exposure are mesothelioma and asbestosis. A work place setting is the most common place someone faces asbestos exposure.
Manufacturers and employers knew of the dangers of asbestos exposure for decades, but failed to warn and protect workers. Lawsuits against employers and manufacturers came about to compensate those with losses caused by asbestos. Learn about these diseases, and whether the law can help you recover damages for your losses.
Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly cancer. It can strike several vital organs, including the lungs, the stomach and abdominal area. It can even involve the heart.
There are about 3,000 new cases diagnosed every year. The typical patient is a man age 50 to 70. Diagnosis is difficult, and the prognosis is often poor. Victims usually die within six months of diagnosis.
Asbestosis is another serious but non-cancerous disease caused by asbestos exposure. Inhaled asbestos fibers damage lung tissue, causing it to scar. The disease is chronic and progressive, marked by shortness of breath and dry crackling sounds from the lungs. There isn't a cure, and the disease can lead to disability and heart failure.
Exposure to Asbestos and Risks for Disease
Asbestos exposure causing disease is usually through someone's job. Asbestos was commonly used in construction, ship building, automotive and other manufacturing industries.
Asbestos fibers can become airborne, and be inhaled and carried on a worker's clothing. Workers can even contaminate their homes with asbestos fibers. However, even while there isn't a safe level of exposure, this type of secondary exposure doesn't present the risks for disease someone faces at work.
The long delay between asbestos exposure and the onset of symptoms can be decades, making diagnosing illness a challenge. A diagnosis may not be confirmed until the latter stages of a disease, leaving limited options for treatment.
Mesothelioma, for example, is a rare cancer. The most common form of the disease is pleural mesothelioma, striking the chest cavity lining. Common symptoms are breathing difficulties, shortness of breath, persistent coughing and difficulty swallowing. These are also symptoms of pneumonia, so misdiagnosis could easily be the result.
Compensation for Illness and Injuries Caused by Asbestos
Employers and manufacturers can be liable for illnesses, injuries and losses caused by asbestosis and mesothelioma. It was known for decades that asbestos exposure was dangerous. However, workers weren't told of the risks or given protection.
Although asbestos-related diseases can take decades to develop and cause symptoms, workers and their family members can file a lawsuit and seek compensation for:
- Medical treatment
- Pain, suffering and mental anguish
- Lost income
Getting help from a lawyer with experience in asbestos lawsuits is an important first step. Recovering for losses caused by asbestos can take several forms. Personal injury, wrongful death and class action lawsuits or workers' compensation are possible options. Many cases end with a settlement, and not a trial. Finally, know that time limits apply to your claim, and vary, depending on your situation.
Questions for Your Attorney
- What level of exposure is needed to support a lawsuit for an asbestos-related illness?
- How do I prove asbestos exposure, and the responsible party, if it happened decades ago?
- Can I sue for disability caused by asbestosis?
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