Exposure to asbestos is extremely dangerous and those who develop cancer after having been exposed due to an occupational hazard have grounds to seek compensation against the manufacturers of the asbestos products.

Asbestos MesotheliomaAsbestos is the term used to describe a group of minerals called asbestiform.  When serpentine rocks are mined and crushed, fibrous strands of asbestos are extracted.

These strands are then shipped to manufacturers to be used in insulation and other materials.  There are multiple types of asbestos, the most common types being:

  • Chrysotile, or white asbestos – This type was used predominantly in products made in the United States although the majority of it was mined in Canada.
  • Amosite, or gray asbestos – Mined in South Africa, this type was not used as frequently in the United States.
  • Crocidolite, or blue asbestos – This type was the least used in commercial products in the United States, making up only about 10% of the total asbestos used.

This mineral is naturally resistant to heat, electricity, fire and corrosion, which is why it was so popular in the manufacturing of thousands of products such as furnaces, pipes, building materials and brake linings.

The affordability of asbestos led manufacturers to continue to use it even when there were safer alternatives available. Workers in a variety of industries faced exposure at all points throughout the manufacturing process.

However, workers such as miners and factory workers who came into contact with asbestos were at the highest risk.

Health Implications

Since asbestos is considered a powerful carcinogen, exposure to it can cause both cancerous and noncancerous diseases. The most common form of cancer caused by asbestos is mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that attacks the lining of the lung and abdomen.

Although it does not usually penetrate deeply into the lung, it spreads on the outside of the lung and compresses it, slowly suffocating its victims. Secondary diseases, such as pneumonia, are what usually becomes fatal as mesothelioma lowers the immune system.

Other diseases that are caused by exposure to asbestos include:

  • Lung cancer
  • Asbestosis, which is scarring of the lungs
  • Pleural disease, which is scarring of the inside of the lungs

It can take years or even decades for those who are exposed to asbestos to experience symptoms. While each individual case is different due to degree of exposure and individual susceptibility, it is typically over 20 years before mesothelioma is diagnosed after exposure.

Occupations at Risk

One of the largest groups of individuals facing consequences from asbestos exposure is veterans. Hundreds of thousands of veteran were heavily exposed on Navy ships, on training grounds and on bases throughout the world.

There are also certain occupations that increase the likelihood of asbestos exposure.  The most dangerous are:

  • Insulator
  • Boilermaker
  • Ship fitter
  • Steel Worker
  • Pipe fitter
  • Brake Mechanic

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Asbestos Mesothelioma Lawsuit History

Asbestos was determined to cause lung disease, including cancer in 1964. In 1965, the American Law Institute stated in a publication of the Reinstatement of the Law of Torts that anyone “who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property is liable for the harm caused by that product to the consumer or end user.”

Once a judge determined that manufacturers and others in the asbestos industry were aware of the significant dangers surrounding it for decades but kept the information to themselves, it opened the doors for millions to seek compensation.

Because of this deceit, countless people have suffered from prolonged exposure leading to a huge United States asbestos tort. This tort permits people who have developed mesothelioma to sue for compensation since the cancer was preventable. Since the 1960’s, there have been millions of lawsuits against companies that manufactured asbestos products as well as those who oversaw its installation.

These lawsuits are not a standard class action suit but instead have been grouped together over the past few decades to save time and money while allowing each plaintiff to retain their own attorney.

To date, mesothelioma litigation is the longest running and one of the most expensive mass torts in United States history.

Mesothelioma Lawsuit Statute of Limitations

For those who have developed mesothelioma, there is a state specific time frame in which you are able to file a lawsuit. If the plaintiff is in poor health, often times the cases can be expedited. Learn more here.

Asbestos Lawsuit Settlements

Here are some examples of mesothelioma verdicts that have come down in recent years.

2003:     Roby Worthington, a former employee of U.S. Steel won a $250 million settlement after being exposed to asbestos at work from 1950 – 1981.

2006:     David Burke was awarded $18.5 million.  He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2005 after being exposed to asbestos as a plastic molder from 1974 – 1975.

2012:     Bobbie Izell was awarded $48 million by a jury after being exposed working on construction sites throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

As of 2013, over 10,000 different companies had been named defendants in asbestos litigation. Estimates predict that there will be over 1 million lawsuits in total regarding asbestos.

 

The information provided here is meant to be informative and does not constitute medical or legal advice in any way.  If you have any concern symptoms, be sure to speak with a medical professional for proper recommendations.  If you have any legal questions, only a licensed lawyer can provide you with legal advice.