Workers in many different types of occupations have been put at risk due to their exposure to asbestos. Electricians, millwrights, machinists, pipefitters, shipyard personnel and demolition crews find that their work will occasionally place them into situations where asbestos is present. Exposure can lead to mesothelioma or asbestosis, leaving the workers scrambling to find some type of compensation for their injuries.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 1.3 million workers are still being exposed to asbestos, and the National Cancer Institute reports that 70 to 80 percent of all mesothelioma cases have resulted from exposure to asbestos. Federal regulations attempt to make conditions safer by limiting the amount of this material that can be used. Despite these limits, the potential still exists for serious long-term health problems. The American Cancer Society states that the average life expectancy for someone diagnosed with mesothelioma is 4 to 18 months, leaving those suffering very little time.
Mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer in the linings of the lungs or other major organs. It is difficult to detect, often remaining undiagnosed until it has spread to multiple organs throughout the body. The symptoms most commonly associated with mesothelioma include chest pain, fatigue, swelling in the abdomen and difficulty breathing. These symptoms can lay dormant for many years, making early diagnosis difficult.
Those suffering any of these types of indicators should visit their physician for further treatment. It is important to notify doctors if employed in any occupations where frequent asbestos contact may have occurred. Once the diagnosis is confirmed by specialists, it will be time to determine how to proceed with a claim against those responsible for causing the illness.
Asbestos claims can be brought under a variety of theories, depending upon the plaintiff’s specific situation. Many of these claims are brought as products liability claims. This type of case alleges that one who sells the product that is unreasonably dangerous to the end-user is liable for any injuries that may occur if the supplier sells the product and the product has not been changed substantially in any way when it reaches the end-user.
Strict liability also applies in situations where the manufacturer has not provided adequate warnings to those who will actually be using the product. This has been a major issue in many asbestos cases. The warning must clearly state the dangers associated with the product and clearly state how the potential misuse of the product can cause severe illness or death.
Another path many asbestos cases take alleges that the defendant was negligent in a way causing the plaintiff to be placed into an unsafe position. To fit as a negligence claim, plaintiffs must show that defendants owed some sort of duty to keep them safe from unnecessary asbestos exposures, that the defendants breached this duty, and that the plaintiff’s asbestos illnesses were caused by this exposure. Negligence claims may arise when employers fail to limit employees contact with asbestos.
In some states, such as North Carolina, workers’ compensation is another potential option for recovery. Clients who may have the condition will need to seek treatment and have the illness professionally diagnosed. Compensation will then be provided based upon the amount of disability present. Under workers’ compensation rules, any recovery will be dictated by the laws of that particular state.
Asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma or asbestosis are extremely costly to treat. At the front end of treatment, many tests will be needed to determine if the patient has one of these illnesses, and if so, how far it has spread. Compensatory damages for lost wages and medical costs may be available, as well as for pain and suffering. To those that have lost a loved one, survivor benefits may also be an option.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestosis, speaking with an experienced attorney in your area will allow you to understand your options. If you feel that your illness is occupation related, be sure to bring any information regarding the time period and places where you may have been subject to asbestos. These cases will have strict timelines, and waiting too long could jeopardize any recovery that may be available.