Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that often affects an individual’s pleura, peritoneum, heart, or testicles. There is only one known cause of mesothelioma, which is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a natural fiber that is often known for its fireproofing abilities and durability. However, asbestos fibers can also harm an individual when it is ingested or inhaled into the lungs. This is ultimately what causes mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
Those who work in certain occupations have a higher risk of asbestos exposure. Some industries involve higher levels of asbestos exposure, including agriculture, construction, and even shipbuilding. This is primarily due to the history of asbestos. Asbestos was formerly considered a powerful, durable material that did not cause harm. It was used in the boilers, steam pipes, wall insulation, turbines, gaskets, pumps, cement, and other shipyard materials due to its durability in tough conditions. Many of the shipyard workers in the United States during World War II were exposed to asbestos for decades, causing them to develop asbestos-related diseases, like asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Those who worked around asbestos-contaminated pipes, boilers, and other items in shipyards were also exposed to asbestos dust. Longshoremen were also exposed to asbestos when handling certain items, such as asbestos-containing insulation, fireproofing materials, and even raw asbestos fibers. At the time, the dangerous nature of asbestos was not apparent, so no one took proper safety precautions at work. Even now, overhauling an old ship still poses a great health risk to workers because it most likely contains asbestos.
As the use of asbestos-containing products increased, occupational health experts began to recognize the toxicity of its fibers. Studies revealing the dangers of asbestos exposure date back as far as the 1940s. However, at the time, the United States government failed to acknowledge that inhaled asbestos fibers could persist inside the body, ultimately creating health hazards. Many longshoremen suffered as a result of this withheld knowledge.
In fact, according to a 2017 study published in the Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health, shipyard workers with a moderate level of asbestos exposure were nearly four times more likely to die of mesothelioma. This study further shows how prevalent mesothelioma is in this occupation and that many workers will suffer financially and emotionally because of mesothelioma. A victim suffering from mesothelioma should contact a lawyer to help cover financial losses.
Due to the history of asbestos, longshoremen are often at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma. In fact, one medical study that followed a group of workers with 20 or more years of employment in ship repair work found that 86 percent developed an asbestos-related lung cancer. Renovations also contributed to asbestos exposure.
Additionally, fibers can attach to clothing, causing workers to expose their families to asbestos. This dangerous substance can be inhaled, causing it to attach to the inside of the lungs. This can lead to health complications over time.
During World War II, approximately 4.5 million men and women worked in shipyard occupations. In 1943, about one in 500 shipyard workers was employed as an asbestos insulator. After World War II, the estimated number of shipyard workers declined from a high of 1.7 million in 1943 to about 200,000. From 1946 to 1976, the shipyard population remained at this level, slightly fluctuating with economic conditions and changes because of the emphasis on shipbuilding. Today, exposure remains when trying to repair or replace ships and shipyard infrastructures.
Other shipyard jobs that placed employees in direct contact with asbestos included:
In addition to applying for benefits with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), many Navy veterans and former shipyard workers have turned to mesothelioma lawsuits. Though the government cannot be held responsible for asbestos exposure, negligent companies and the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products often can be held liable. The Feres Doctrine prevents veterans from seeking government compensation through the court system. However, many veterans are eligible for disability compensation and health care benefits.
In order to receive compensation, a veteran must prove that they have an asbestos-related disease that was caused by exposure during their active military service. It is often challenging to pinpoint when and where the exposure to asbestos occurred, but an experienced lawyer can assist with this process.
Workers’ Compensation laws are considered to be exclusive remedies. This means that if an employee is injured on the job, the worker has the right to recover benefits through the state’s Workers’ Compensation structure, but they cannot sue an employer in court. A Workers’ Compensation claim against an employer is normally conducted outside of a formal court setting. Most states have an administrative bureau or tribunal in place to make decisions regarding the disbursement of Workers’ Compensation funds to injured employees. These funds are raised through mandatory contributions to state programs or are paid through private insurance. Most exclusive-remedy states require employers of a certain size to carry special insurance dedicated to the settlement of Workers’ Compensation claims.
A Workers’ Compensation claim for asbestos exposure is limited to claims against a direct employer. Manufacturers, suppliers, and contractors that may have facilitated asbestos exposure are not responsible for Workers’ Compensation. Instead, they may be sued in court. If a Workers’ Compensation claim is denied and an appeal is unsuccessful, it may be possible to go to court to overturn that decision, but state laws vary. For this reason, it is important to speak to a lawyer right away.
Tracing one’s asbestos exposure history is often crucial in the diagnosis period. An early diagnosis can lead to an improved survival rate, which is important for a family that wants to spend more time with their loved one that is suffering from mesothelioma. A person who worked in a shipyard should contact a doctor to ensure that they do not have an asbestos-related disease.
Additionally, a victim who has mesothelioma should contact a lawyer in order to hold liable parties accountable. Medical expenses related to mesothelioma are often costly and lifelong, so it is important to receive the right amount of compensation. A dedicated lawyer will ensure that their client obtains the right amount of damages for recovery.
If you have mesothelioma because you were exposed to asbestos, you need to contact one of our respected Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. Exposure to asbestos can lead to severe illness or even death. It can also lead to expensive medical bills and missed workdays. Our lawyers work tirelessly to ensure that liable parties are accountable for dangerous asbestos exposure. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 215-569-4000. Located in Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.