Americans working in the industrial and building trades were regularly exposed to asbestos for more than half a century after companies became aware of its dangerous properties. Once considered a “miracle mineral,” it was used extensively on Navy ships and in the shipyards, so many veterans and workers were also regularly exposed. Perhaps even more frightening is the second-hand exposure. As workers returned home in the evening, their families were also exposed to the fibers. Children hugging their daddies after a long day were unknowingly breathing in the asbestos, and wives busy sorting laundry and washing clothes were also exposed. Millions of Americans have been put at risk, and this disease continues to grow as time goes on. If you believe you or a love one were exposed to asbestos, it’s vital to know your legal rights.
The Exposure Continues
Asbestos was used throughout the 20th century, but it’s use was in steep decline by the 1970s. However, there are still many buildings, homes, offices and schools that have this material lying inside. As asbestos tiles are walked on or the ceiling tiles move and shift, tiny fibers are released into the air and breathed in by unsuspecting people.
The disease was first identified in the late 1940s. However, research for this disease was neglected for decades, and it continues to receive a small amount of funding for research. The cancer affects the cells lining an organ, including the abdominal organs, heart and lungs. Tumors may form on the lining of the chest cavity. Linking the disease to the particular cause was difficult in the past because it typically takes between 35 and 50 years for the disease to appear. Diagnosis is slow, and the disease is commonly too advanced for treatment by the time it is found. The prognosis for anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma depends on how advanced the cancer is, how healthy the person is, their heart health and their age.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
The symptoms of this disease include pain under the rib cage, persistent cough and shortness of breath. You may also experience weight loss, abdominal pain and swelling, fever, anemia and problems with blood clotting. Many of these symptoms are commonly attributed to other problems, and that makes it more difficult to get an accurate diagnosis.
The disease is confirmed through a physical exam, lung function tests, X-rays, blood tests, biopsies and CT scans. Once diagnosed, treatment includes surgery to remove tumors, radiation and chemotherapy.
The Cost of Treatment
As with any cancer, the cost of treating mesothelioma is high. Many people go deep into debt as they try to cover copays and the other expenses associated with treating mesothelioma. However, the upfront costs of medical care, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are only a small part of the overall expenses.
Most people going through these treatments are unable to work due to exhaustion and illness. Without money coming in, it’s difficult to keep up with the regular bills. In addition to the patient losing their income, there are often other family members who lose income as they cut back their working hours to become a primary caregiver.
Treatment for this disease may involve traveling to hospitals that are far from home to receive specialized care. The cost of hotels, travel arrangements and daily expenses while traveling for medical care can also be high. Some patients may have caring friends who organize fund raisers to help them cover expenses, and there is government assistance available in some cases. However, the best way to ensure that you can cover the cost of treatment is to look back and find the responsible party. Many businesses knew the dangers of asbestos and continued using it in their buildings. One option is to file a lawsuit against former employers and other agencies to help cover the high cost of treating mesothelioma.
Learn Your Legal Rights
The first step is to learn what your legal rights are, and a mesothelioma lawyer can assist you with this process. Companies that knew the risks associated with employees and failed to inform employees, contractors and the general public are being held responsible for their actions. Information was hidden or buried for more than half of a century, but lawyers are now working to bring these companies to justice and force them to pay for their unethical business practices. You may be entitled to compensation and you can use that compensation for:
• Medical bills and related expenses
• Funds for loved ones
• Education for family members
• Donations to research and worthy causes
• Other uses that you see fit
Trust Funds are Already in Place
Many companies have already been to court and been held responsible for their actions of the 20th century. In addition to making payments to workers already named in lawsuits, several companies have also set up trust funds to pay for workers who have not yet been diagnosed with mesothelioma. The courts have put these measures in place because asbestos continues to be hidden in buildings and it takes decades for the disease to progress and be diagnosed. You may be eligible to receive payments from these trust funds, and a mesothelioma lawyer can help you file the claim and receive the compensation you need.
Pursuing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit and Costs
If you are considering filing a lawsuit against a company, you will want to start by meeting with a lawyer. The legal team will review your information and help determine the strength of your claims. Workers who were directly exposed are not the only ones eligible to bring a suit. The family members exposed second hand may also bring suit to cover their medical expenses. The initial meeting with most attorneys is free of charge. Many attorneys also work on a contingency basis, meaning that they will only be paid if you receive compensation. Their payment is then taken out of your compensation, so you will not have to make any payments out of your own pocket.
If you are concerned about a recent diagnosis of mesothelioma and are worried about covering the medical bills, you may be able to file a mesothelioma lawsuit. Hire an attorney who specializes in this type of lawsuit to learn your rights, find out what your options are and increase your chance of finding justice.