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What steps do I need to take if I have been exposed to asbestos?

Asbestos has long been known to cause devastating illnesses, but the product has not been completely banned in the U.S. This means that despite the laws and protections that are in place to keep people safe from asbestos, there is still a chance that people will be exposed to the unsafe material on the job or at home. 

If you or a loved one has potentially been exposed to asbestos, you will need to take steps to better understand your options for testing, treatment and legal action.

One of the most important things to do after coming into contact with asbestos is to act quickly. Right away, you'll want to assess how much asbestos you may have been exposed to. If the exposure was very brief or only involved a very small amount of asbestos, your risk of developing a serious illness likely could be small. But if the exposure was for a long period of time or it involved high concentrations of asbestos, your health could very well be in danger.

After determining the extent of your potential exposure, it can be crucial to seek medical care. Talk to your doctor about the details of your exposure. He or she may suggest different tests and preventative measures that can decrease or delay the effects of the asbestos. Early detection of asbestos-related illnesses can be crucial in securing effective treatment.

Once you have a better handle on your healthcare needs, you can focus on your rights. Make sure to document the source and time of the exposure as well as the medical costs that stem from the exposure. Doing so can be very beneficial in the event that you wish to take legal action.

Victims of asbestos exposure can work with an attorney to file a suit sooner, rather than waiting decades to be diagnosed with an illness and suffer deterioration in health. Legal claims can take years to resolve, but they can result in financial damages that can cover the cost of the care and treatment you have incurred since the exposure, and provide benefits for future care needs. 

Source: Cancer.org, "Asbestos," accessed on Nov. 10, 2014

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