Asbestos exposure has long been linked with a deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma. Workers across a wide range of industries, as well as residents of older homes are the most likely to have been exposed to the deadly fibrous material which was once heavily used in construction and manufacturing.
While modern laws have been enacted limiting the use of asbestos in construction, and rigid safety regulations are in place for the remediation of asbestos in buildings, the number of people diagnosed with mesothelioma is expected to continue in coming years. Many of these people will be able to seek compensation.
This article was designed to discuss some of the basic facts surrounding mesothelioma and its connection to asbestos, as well as help those who have questions about these topics decide if they should contact a personal injury lawyer. If you have mesothelioma or have been exposed to asbestos, contact our office for more information.
Asbestos is a Killer
While mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, it is believed that more than 80 percent of sufferers were exposed to asbestos.
Asbestos is a commercial name for a group of fibrous minerals used in construction and manufacturing applications. These minerals were valued after for their strength, fire and electrical resistance, and flexibility. For decades, asbestos has been used in industries such as automotive manufacturing, residential /commercial construction, as well as the naval industry. When asbestos is handled, tiny particles can separate and remain airborne before being inhaled into the lungs. Those affected by asbestos exposure often work directly with the substance, but family members can be exposed too.
Mesothelioma, Some Basic Information
In cases of mesothelioma, malignant cancer cells form in the outer lining of the lungs or chest cavity, in the pericardial sac surrounding the heart or the lining of the abdominal cavity. The amount of time between exposure to asbestos and onset of symptoms can be as long as 20 years. Symptoms can include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Cough (with or without blood present)
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Other symptoms
Unfortunately, persons diagnosed with mesothelioma have low survival rates. The rate of survival can significantly be affected by the progression of the disease at the time of diagnosis. For instance, a stage four diagnosis of mesothelioma in the chest lining has a five-year survival rate of less than 1 percent.
What Legal Options Are Available to Those Exposed to Asbestos?
Workers and family members who have been affected by asbestos exposure can have a number of different options available when seeking compensation depending on the specific circumstances of their situation. In some cases, a worker might reach a settlement with a former employer regarding asbestos exposure. This is best done with the help of a lawyer who can effectively negotiate the fairest settlement possible with the company. It’s important to keep in mind that when negotiating a settlement, the company’s lawyers are going to try to negotiate the smallest settlement possible.
Since the 1980s several companies have sought to avoid litigation with workers afflicted with asbestos related disease, and have set up what are known as asbestos bankruptcy trusts. These trusts were set up when companies, seeking bankruptcy, reorganized. During this process, companies put money into trusts, which is paid out to workers affected by asbestos exposure. To date, billions of dollars have been paid out to workers and their families through these trusts.
When settlement and trust funds aren’t available to a person afflicted with mesothelioma, it might be necessary to take the case before a court of law. This is always best done with guidance from a qualified personal injury attorney.
Statute of Limitations in an Asbestos Case
The California Code of Civil Procedures §340.2 states that civil action based on exposure to asbestos must be taken within one year of the date of disability, or within one year of the plaintiff reasonably knowing the disability was caused by asbestos exposure.
In the event that a person decides to file a claim on behalf of a relative who died as the result of asbestos exposure, the statute of limitations is either within one year of the death, or one year of the date that the plaintiff reasonably knew the death was caused by asbestos.
Because a claim can’t be filed after the statute of limitations has expired, it’s important you talk to an attorney sooner than later.
Contacting an Attorney
Personal injury law is complex, as are the legal strategies for dealing with mesothelioma and asbestos exposure. If you believe you were exposed to asbestos and have become ill as a result, it is important you discuss your options with an attorney. There is no reason for you to suffer in silence. Mesothelioma is a devastating disease that not only affects the sufferer, but their family as well. You might have an opportunity to fight for a little piece of justice. If you have questions about any of the issues discussed in this article, contact our office for more information.