Mesothelioma and Asbestos
Asbestos is a mineral fiber naturally occurring in rock and soil. Because of its strength and the fact that it's heat resistant, manufacturers use it in a lot of construction materials. Companies also use it in many household products. The problem with asbestos is that you can get sick if you inhale or somehow ingest its dust and fibers.
For years, it was customary for contractors to use asbestos-containing products such as roofing shingles and cement. However, in 1978, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of asbestos in public structures. Unfortunately, the government didn't restrict the use of asbestos in consumer goods.
Asbestos exposure causes severe illnesses, such as cancer. Experts have linked a particular type of cancer called mesothelioma to asbestos as well. In this section, we will discuss why asbestos exposure is so harmful.
This section will also explain what to do if you come into contact with asbestos. Finally, this page will describe the symptoms and treatment for mesothelioma. If you believe that asbestos fibers or dust caused your asbestos-related injuries, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your asbestos lawsuit immediately.
What Type of Products Contain Asbestos?
Many consumers don't realize how many products still contain asbestos. While manufacturers and builders primarily use it in insulation and as a fire retardant in buildings and homes, it's also in many consumer and household goods.
Some of the products that contain asbestos include the following:
- Floor and ceiling tiles
- Transmission parts
- Steel coatings
- Steam and hot water pipes
- Paint and spackling compounds
- Paper products
Of course, this list isn't exhaustive. Numerous products and materials are no longer allowed to contain asbestos. You can find a detailed list of these products on the EPA's Federal Bans on Asbestos page.
What Is Mesothelioma?
The FDA and CDC have linked long-term asbestos exposure to malignant mesothelioma, a rare and lethal form of cancer that invades the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and heart. It can take years (or decades) for this illness to appear. This is one factor that makes asbestos product liability claims difficult to litigate.
Regardless of when your doctor diagnoses you with mesothelioma, there is no cure. There is also no way to remove the cancer because it affects parts of the body you cannot live without. While a surgeon can attempt to remove part of your lung or abdomen, they cannot remove the whole thing. Because this type of cancer metastasizes so quickly, there is little healthcare professionals can do to help.
Asbestos Exposure: Risk Factors
Most of us come into contact with asbestos at some point. However, low levels of exposure rarely cause mesothelioma. People who develop this type of cancer have typically experienced long-term asbestos exposure.
Certain groups are at a much higher risk of encountering asbestos, asbestos fibers, and asbestos dust. Some of these groups include:
- Employees in the shipbuilding industry
- Asbestos manufacturers
- Auto Mechanics
- First responders
- Demolition workers
- Members of the military
- Drywall removers
- Construction workers
If you work in one of these fields and contract an asbestos-related illness, reach out to an experienced mesothelioma attorney. They can review your claim and tell you if you have a strong mesothelioma claim.
Secondary asbestos exposure can also cause mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. For example, when a worker experiences regular environmental asbestos exposure, they can bring home asbestos on their clothes and shoes.
The worker's items may contain asbestos dust that can reach family members and roommates. Asbestos particles may have latched onto their skin and hair, too. Others coming in contact with the worker may breathe in the asbestos dust.
If you've been exposed to asbestos, it's essential to recognize the symptoms of mesothelioma. The best hope for effectively treating this aggressive disease is to get a mesothelioma diagnosis early. Even then, a cure isn't possible for most people.
Some of the warning signs that you may have mesothelioma include the following symptoms, which are similar to those of other pulmonary illnesses:
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulties
- Abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Abdominal bloating and lumps
Because these symptoms are similar to the flu, many people don't go to the doctor. But each day can make a difference in your treatment plan. If you notice any of these symptoms and know that you have come into contact with asbestos, see a healthcare provider immediately.
Unfortunately, most oncologists don't diagnose their mesothelioma patients until their illness has advanced. Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases have a long latency period.
Most doctors recommend palliative care, which can help relieve the patient's pain and make life more comfortable. Palliative care may consist of radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery.
There is no cure for mesothelioma. All the doctors can do is help with pain management. They will also try to extend your life for as long as possible. The last thing you'll want to spend your time doing is fighting with an insurance company or dealing with a lawsuit. It's in your best interest to hire a mesothelioma lawyer who specializes in asbestos cases.
What Damages Can Your Attorney Demand?
Damages in mesothelioma cases are typically pretty high. Many of these cases turn into a wrongful death lawsuit. If your loved one or family member passes away from their illness before you file your claim, this will be your only option. Depending on the circumstances, there have been trust funds set up to help cover damages in mesothelioma claims.
In many types of mesothelioma lawsuits, the plaintiff's injuries entitle them to collect the following damages:
- Medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost future income
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Punitive damages
It's rare for a judge to award punitive damages in a mesothelioma lawsuit. Your attorney would have to prove that the defendant acted intentionally or recklessly. That is difficult to do when dealing with a product liability case. Your lawyer will have difficulty proving that the judge should punish the product manufacturer for their behavior in most asbestos claims.
Speak With an Asbestos Attorney Today
Asbestos and mesothelioma-related illnesses can take a long time to develop. Some people don't receive their diagnosis for up to 50 years after exposure. This is especially true for people who worked with and near asbestos.
If you have suffered from shortness of breath, were exposed to asbestos, or have reason to believe you may be at risk, you should explore your legal options. Contact an attorney with experience working on asbestosis and mesothelioma cases to learn how they can help protect your legal rights.
Make sure you speak with an attorney before the statute of limitations period expires. If you miss this filing deadline, the courts will not allow you to sue the defendant. You'll likely lose the opportunity to recover damages.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.