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Worker diagnosed with lung disease after exposure to asbestos

In many situations, people have no idea that they are being exposed to asbestos or other types of hazardous materials. But long-term exposure can result in the contraction of disease such as mesothelioma.

How can someone who is suffering from an asbestos-related disease know where the exposure occurred? For some, the disease is the result of workplace asbestos exposure. But knowing what to do after contracting this type of disease can be confusing and frustrating.

One worker discovered that he had been exposed to asbestos through his work and had sustained a number of injuries as a result. He brought a claim against his employer in his state of residence and eventually reached a settlement with them. The worker also signed a release that barred him from bringing future claims against the employer regarding cancer arising from the toxic exposure. This occurred nearly 21 years ago.

But, as we've seen before, occupational diseases from exposure to hazardous materials can take years to develop. And about eight years after the initial settlement, the worker was diagnosed with lung cancer. He sued his previous employer because the lung cancer was a result of the asbestos exposure.

The employer argued that the release the worker had signed after the initial settlement prohibited any future cancer claims. They believe that the release was clear and that by saying "cancer", the term included all types of cancer. Just recently the state's Supreme Court ruled in favor of the employer, stating that the release barred the worker from bringing a future cancer claim.

Even though the worker was not aware that asbestos exposure could cause lung cancer, he still cannot sue the employer over it. This is an example of how complicated an exposure claim can be, especially over time. Workers, or anyone for that matter, who are exposed to these types of toxic materials should speak with someone who understands the implications of the situation. It can help the disease victim get the compensation he or she deserves.

Source: WBOY News: "W.Va. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of CSX in Asbestos Exposure Case," Andrea Lannom, Oct. 24, 2011

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