Asbestos is a toxic mineral that is directly related to terminal lung cancers, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. It was widely used in the construction, manufacturing, and automotive industries after World War II because of its resistance to heat and chemicals, as well as its insulation properties. When asbestos is handled, the fibers that make up the mineral become airborne. Our Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers report that when individuals inhale these fibers, they embed themselves into the deep tissue of the lungs, where they lay dormant for a period of 20 to 50 years before developing into asbestos-related diseases. Because of this, victims never know when symptoms could begin.
Treatment options for mesothelioma are limited, and survival rates are low. Many victims of this disease die within five years of diagnosis. Significant studies have been done to find effective ways to prolong life expectancy for these patients, but progress has been slow. Approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States each year, and over 2,000 others lose their lives from the disease annually.
Individuals who worked in certain industries prior to 1980 have a greater risk of developing mesothelioma because of their direct exposure to asbestos. Past workers may not have worked in these industries for a long time, but they could have been exposed in the short time they had that job. If workers were exposed, visit a doctor for testing and treatment.
Working in the following industries presents the highest risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses. This list is not exhaustive, but it gives an idea of the types of workers that are exposed to asbestos every year. Victims may also live in an area where these industries are prevalent, and they should be concerned about the level of exposure in these cases.
Automotive Workers: Many automotive parts are made with asbestos, particularly brakes, brake pads, and rotors. Clutches, heat seals, gaskets, engine components, and exterior panels contain asbestos and continue to be used today. Mechanics, body shop repair workers, and automotive manufacturers are commonly exposed to asbestos when components are bent, grinded, and even cleaned. Automotive designers, managers, or foremen who do not build the vehicles directly may have been exposed because they toured the factory floor, visited suppliers, and inspected raw materials that would be used to make the vehicles.
Construction Workers: Asbestos was commonly used in such things as vinyl flooring, plaster, stucco, insulation, roofing shingles, piping, and insulation. Electricians, carpenters, plumbers, pipe fitters, welders, and roofers are still high-risk occupations today because of the exposure that comes from the demolition and restoration of older buildings and homes. Architects or designers may have been exposed during tours of the worksites they managed.
Firefighters: Buildings built between 1900 and 1980 have a high rate of asbestos in their structures. When one of these buildings or homes catches fire, asbestos fibers are released and potentially inhaled by the firefighters. The demolition of these structures following a fire further exposes those involved with removing the debris. Fire inspectors, fire department officers surveying fire damage, or a municipal regulator who managed the fire department could have been exposed because they were present at the scenes of these fires.
Military: Asbestos was commonly used by all branches of the military for more than half of the 20th century. Battleships, submarines, aircraft carriers, planes, tanks, and auxiliary equipment all contained asbestos parts and exposed members of the Armed Forces to high levels of the toxin as they worked in and/or repaired these vehicles. There are approximately 22 million veterans living in the United States today, and many of them are at risk of developing mesothelioma and/or other asbestos-related diseases.
Miners and Factory Workers: Those who mined for asbestos or worked in plants that manufactured asbestos-containing products are at risk for exposure. The microscopic asbestos fibers that are released when working with the mineral are easily transported through the air. Even workers that used masks and other protective breathing equipment while working were still exposed to the fibers in the environment surrounding these industrial sites. Managers, foremen, and executives may have been exposed when visiting these worksites, or they may have been exposed during the construction of a large factory or mining facility.
Secondhand Exposure: Even those who did not work in these high-risk industries have suffered from mesothelioma and other respiratory diseases because of their secondhand exposure to this toxin. Workers returning home after laboring in the mines or factories all day had toxic fibers stuck to their hair, skin, and clothes. Those who lived near the mines or the factories inhaled asbestos through airborne fibers that traveled from the work sites. The simple act of giving someone a hug, laundering a family member’s work clothes, or opening the windows to let in fresh air resulted in many people being exposed to asbestos.
Many new medical treatments are emerging that can prolong the life expectancy of those with mesothelioma. Class action lawsuits, trust funds, and settlements have helped many victims and their families receive compensation for their injuries. It is imperative for anyone diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness to consult with an experienced Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible.
Victims should provide any information about the type of work they were doing, assignments they were given, and how often they might have been exposed. We will investigate each case thoroughly to understand how the victim was exposed, and we will look at any secondary exposure that may have occurred. We also coordinate with medical professionals who can help us understand how much it will cost to pay for treatment.
Do not speak to the attorney representing the employer or an insurance company. Do not say anything that might be used to invalidate a claim. We will ensure that victims have an understanding of all the claims that should be made, and we will vigorously argue each case to ensure the compensation victims deserve.
Victims may be approached by a lawyer or representative of the negligent company, and they might offer a cash settlement to end the case as soon as possible. Do not accept these offers and forward them all to our office. We can use this information to show that the company wanted to cover up whatever they did to expose their employees.
Asbestos claims typically have a two-year statute of limitations starting on the date of the diagnosis. If victims cannot prove that their illness was caused by exposure at work or in a public place, the statute of limitations begins when the correlation between the illness and exposure becomes obvious.
Contact our lawyers as soon as possible to ensure that we have time to investigate each case and to file a claim when needed. If we must file a wrongful death lawsuit due to asbestos exposure, victims have two years from the date of death to file a claim. A representative of the deceased’s estate must file the suit on behalf of any surviving relatives. Contact our office as soon as possible to avoid any delays.
When an individual is diagnosed with mesothelioma or an asbestos-related illness, they can contact our office for help obtaining the compensation they need. Exposure is often incidental, or the individual might be a surviving family member of someone who died from an asbestos-related disease but did not file a lawsuit. Our Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers will help recover compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages or earning potential, and even final expenses in the event of a wrongful death claim.
A diagnosis of mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other asbestos-related illnesses can quickly devastate a family’s emotional and financial health. Call our Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler at 215-569-4000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, and we serve clients in Delaware County, Chester County, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.