Victims of Mesothelioma Cancer Due to Asbestos Exposure Have Legal Rights
Individuals who have developed mesothelioma cancer, asbestosis, lung cancer, or other diseases linked to asbestos exposure may be eligible to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for the injuries and the cost of medical care.
For decades, manufacturers of asbestos materials knew that exposure to their products could cause deadly illnesses, but chose to do nothing. Now years later, thousands of individuals are being diagnosed every year with mesothelioma cancer or other illnesses that were caused by exposure to asbestos that occurred on the job, during military service, or in the home.
The use of asbestos-containing products has been severely restricted in the U.S. in recent years due to the health risks associated with the material, which includes asbestosis and lung cancer in addition to mesothelioma. Asbestos use in the U.S. peaked in 1973, with about 803,000 metric tons in use, to approximately 1,700 metric tons in 2007.
The most deadly illness linked to asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, a type of cancer which affects the mesothelium, a thin membrane that surrounds the bodyís internal organs. The most common form of the disease, pleural mesothelioma, affects the lining that surrounds the lungs. Peritoneal mesothelioma, (which affects the lining that surrounds the abdominal cavity) and pericardial mesothelioma (affecting the lining of the heart) are less common but still widely prevalent forms of the disease.
Exposure to asbestos has been linked to a number of other serious illnesses besides mesothelioma. Asbestosis is a chronic disease caused by scarring in the lungs due to the presence of asbestos fibers. Although asbestosis is non-cancerous, nonetheless it is a serious illness that can cause severe breathing problems, cardiac failure, and death. Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath and rales, a dry crackling sound in the lungs when inhaling. Asbestosis is usually detected by a pulmonary examination, which can assess a patientís breathing function and help to chart the progression of the disease. Individuals who have been exposed to asbestos may also face an increased risk of developing lung cancer. Common lung cancer symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, and persistent breathing problems.
Despite efforts to limit the use of asbestos products, thousands of Americans continue to die from mesothelioma cancer each year because of the decades long latency period that occurs between asbestos exposure and cancer diagnosis. According to the CDC, the U.S. will continue to see thousands of deaths each year due to mesothelioma and other asbestos illnesses because of widespread exposure to the product decades ago.
The most common industries in which people work who have died from mesothelioma include shipbuilding and repair (including veterans of the U.S. Navy), industrial and chemical industry, petroleum refining, electrical or power plant workers, and construction workers. The most commonly reported occupations among workers who have died from mesothelioma include plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters, mechanical engineers, electricians, and elementary school teachers.
Victims of Mesothelioma Cancer from Asbestos Exposure Have Legal Rights
More than 500,000 workers and other individuals who have developed mesothelioma or other asbestos illnesses have filed lawsuits against manufacturers of asbestos products or the companies who used them. Documents that were uncovered in these lawsuits have proven that the asbestos industry has known for decades about the deadly risks of asbestos exposure, but failed to warn workers or the general public about these dangers.
Although the link between asbestos and illnesses such as mesothelioma is clear, identifying the cause of your asbestos exposure can be a difficult and time-consuming task, requiring a detailed work history and careful gathering of evidence to prove the link between your illness and asbestos. Workers who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease should work with an experienced attorney, who can guide them through the process of filing a lawsuit and seeking compensation to cover medical bills and other expenses.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jim Orr
Jim Orr (a partner with the Dallas, Texas law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson) focuses his practice on complex business litigation and life-altering personal injury matters. During his career, he has represented plaintiffs and defendants in a variety of civil litigation matters in over 30 different states.
As a true trial attorney, Jim has tried over 75 cases to a jury verdict. He is Board Certified in Civil Trial Advocacy and Personal Injury Trial Law. He is also AV-rated (the highest legal rating available) by Martindale Hubbell and several times, his peers have selected him to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, in the State of Texas, including for 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.