Mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer that is caused by long-term exposure to asbestos. It occurs in the lining of the chest cavity. Asbestos is a fibrous material that was once widely used in construction and is still in use in brake pad manufacturing and other industries. Mesothelioma can develop when a person breathes in asbestos fibers regularly over an extended period of time.
There are a few ways that someone could be exposed to asbestos and develop mesothelioma. The most common method of exposure happens to people who encounter asbestos during their work. Occupational exposure happens to people who work closely with asbestos, especially people in auto manufacturing and shipbuilding. Asbestos is no longer widely used in the construction industry, but people who were working while it was a common component in many structures have developed mesothelioma. Asbestos is still present in many older homes. However, when asbestos is intact and undamaged it is not harmful.
The second most common method of exposure to asbestos is natural exposure. Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that was mined for much of the mid-20th century. Asbestos is no longer mined in the United States, but people who lived near asbestos mines when they were in use were exposed to the fibers in the air. Some of these people eventually developed mesothelioma. California is the state with the highest number of mesothelioma deaths. Many of these cases of mesothelioma developed after natural exposure. California has asbestos deposits in most of its counties.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that has a high mortality rate. This partly owes to the fact that it often goes undetected for many years. The prognosis for mesothelioma declines as the condition worsens.
Until the 1990s, many American workers in the construction, shipbuilding and automotive industries were constantly exposed to asbestos in their work. Most of these people did not know of the dangers of breathing in air contaminated with asbestos. However, the companies who employed these workers often did know of the risks of breathing in asbestos and that it could cause dangerous health complications to people who breathed in asbestos fibers, yet they did not warn their employees of the dangers and did not provide them with the proper safety equipment and training. As a result, thousands of people develop mesothelioma each year, years or even decades after they retired from the work that exposed them to asbestos.
Workers and their families began organizing to file mesothelioma lawsuits against their former employers to seek damages because of their negligence and disregard for the safety of their employees. Some of these lawsuits are still ongoing, with many workers and families of deceased workers claiming mesothelioma lawsuit settlements.
Is There a Statute of Limitations?
Most states’ personal injury or worker’s compensation laws have a statute of limitations of up to five years to file a claim. However, mesothelioma is slow to progress and can take between 10 and 40 years for a doctor to detect. In these cases, the statute of limitations on a mesothelioma claim begins after the diagnosis. For instance, California’s statute of limitations on mesothelioma claims extends to one year after the person discovers they have the condition.
Are Mesothelioma Cases Usually Successful?
If you can prove that your mesothelioma resulted from regular, prolonged exposure to asbestos at your place of work and that your employer was negligent and acted without regard to your health and safety, you will greatly strengthen your chances of victory in your mesothelioma lawsuit. You can solidify your case if you keep detailed records about your diagnosis and treatment and can prove that you worked at a site with a dangerously high level of airborne asbestos that caused your condition.
To determine whether you can secure a settlement for your medical bills and other expenses, you must contact an attorney to evaluate your case. The dedicated attorneys at mesothelioma law firms have experience in getting mesothelioma patients the compensation they deserve from employers and other negligent parties.
Many attorneys offer free initial consultations and evaluations. At this initial consultation, your lawyer will determine your eligibility for filing suit by asking you questions about your work history, your diagnosis and your treatments. If you are a family member filing after your loved one died from their condition, you will have to provide all of this information as well. Some mesothelioma attorneys work on a no-win, no-fee basis, which means that you only pay the attorney’s fee if you win your case.
If you have the documentation necessary to prove that your mesothelioma resulted from your work and that your employer was negligent in protecting workers’ health and safety, it may not be necessary for you to go to court. Many companies prefer to settle out of court when their responsibility in a person’s mesothelioma diagnosis is clear. Even if you do not have to go to court, you should hire a lawyer to represent you at all settlement hearings. It is likely that you do not have the knowledge of the law and your rights that an attorney does. During settlement meetings, companies almost always make an initial offer that is less than fair. An attorney knows how to stand firm and demand your right to just compensation for your or your loved one’s pain and suffering.
If you develop mesothelioma, chances are your condition resulted from continual occupational or natural exposure to airborne asbestos. As soon as you are able to after your diagnosis, you should contact an attorney to explore your legal options. Personal injury law, including mesothelioma law, is complex, and the litigation process takes time. If you do not file suit before the statute of limitations on your case expires, you may never be eligible to file suit and receive payment from your employer. An attorney needs time to help walk you through the process of gathering documentation and contacting the parties responsible to begin settlement talks. Make sure that you and your family receive due compensation for your condition and contact a qualified, experienced mesothelioma attorney.