The Goldberg Law Firm Co., LPA

The Goldberg Law Firm Co., LPA

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Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuits

 

What is the problem with asbestos exposure?

Exposure to asbestos can destroy lives.

Once known as the “magic mineral,” the heat- and fire-resistant properties of asbestos have been known for centuries. For nearly 100 years, it was one of the most commonly used materials in construction, manufacturing, shipbuilding, and mining.

Unfortunately, the health risks associated with asbestos exposure have also been evident for nearly as long. Many of us have been exposed to asbestos, including veterans and first-responders who were put at risk during heroic service.

In the industrial heartland of America millions of workers – steelworkers, miners, machinists, millers, construction workers, firefighters, auto mechanics, textile workers – have been exposed to asbestos in their workplace, their communities, or their homes.

You may not have been made aware of the risks of exposure. Years later, you may be suffering the consequences. The legal term is “benign neglect.” It means that your employer, your place of work or your care provider adopted a policy or attitude that ignored a harmful, potentially dangerous or undesirable situation.

Symptoms related to exposure to asbestos may take 10 to 40 years to appear. Mesothelioma’s long latency periods – the time between initial asbestos exposure and a definitively cancer diagnoses – complicate many aspects of asbestos litigation, including limits on the amount of time asbestos victims have to file lawsuits.

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Who’s at risk?

People who develop mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses have usually worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos fibers, or have been exposed to asbestos dust and fiber in other ways, such as by washing the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos, or home renovation using asbestos cement products. Not everyone who is exposed to asbestos will get sick; however, exposure does increase a person’s lifelong risk for developing one or more of these illnesses. And, this elevated risk lasts for decades after exposure.

Asbestos is present in thousands of construction materials and household products that we use every day. It’s been used in automobile brake linings, fire retardant coating for pipes, bricks, floor tiles, thermal insulation, ceiling insulation, roofing, fireproof drywall and flooring. The mineral is found in ships, trains, electric turbines and steam boilers.

Millions of American workers have been exposed to asbestos for decades. Health hazards from asbestos fibers have been identified in workers exposed in the shipbuilding trades, asbestos mining and milling, manufacturing of asbestos textiles and other asbestos products, insulation manufacturing and installation. Military personnel who built and maintained warships are particularly mesothelioma. Any veteran who served before the 1970s was likely exposed to asbestos and has a higher risk of developing an asbestos-related illness.

Other people at risk in the workplace include some miners, factory workers, railroad and automotive workers, gas mask manufacturers, and construction workers. Demolition workers, drywall removers, asbestos removal workers and firefighters also may be exposed to asbestos fibers.

Although it is clear that the health risks from asbestos exposure increase with heavier exposure and longer exposure time, investigators have found asbestos-related diseases in individuals with only brief exposures. Generally, those who develop asbestos-related diseases show no signs of illness for a long time after their first exposure.

Any exposure to asbestos increases a person’s chance of contracting mesothelioma or asbestos-related diseases.  Key malignant mesothelioma statistics can be found at the American Cancer Society.

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History of asbestos use

Asbestos has been used for thousands of years, dating as far back as 5,000 BC when the mineral was mined in Finland, Sweden and Greece. By the 1700s, awareness of the health risks of asbestos exposure arose, but its use was on the rise. Asbestos soon became a popular commercial product for manufacturers and builders as well as a fiber used to create fireproof clothing. By 1860, asbestos was a popular product for insulation in residential and commercial building, including some schools.

In 1906 a British Parliamentary Commission confirmed the first cases of asbestos deaths in factories in Britain and recommended better ventilation and other safety measures. In 1918, a U.S. insurance company produced a study showing premature deaths in the asbestos industry in the U.S. The first successful compensation claim by an ill asbestos worker was settled without a trial and processed by the Massachusetts Industrial Accidents Board in 1926.

Although definitive links between asbestos and deadly diseases were evident by the early 1930s, its use remained widespread. U.S. Navy members were frequently exposed to asbestos while building ships for World War II.

As the number of lawsuits grew in the early 1970s, the use of asbestos began to gradually decline. In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned many asbestos products. However, in 1991, the EPA’s ban on asbestos products was overturned. Some products are allowed, while products such as flooring, felt, rollboard and asbestos paper are banned. The substance is still present in thousands of everyday consumer products. A list of products that legally contain asbestos is available on the EPA website.

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Types of asbestos-related diseases

Mesothelioma: Of all the asbestos-related diseases, malignant mesothelioma is the most serious. It is an aggressive cancer affecting the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen. It is almost always caused by previous exposure to asbestos. In this disease, malignant cells develop in the mesothelium, a protective lining that covers most of the body’s internal organs. Its most common site is the pleura (outer lining of the lungs and chest cavity), but it may also occur in the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity) or the pericardium (a sac that surrounds the heart).

The disease frequently involves severe respiratory problems. Mesothelioma typically takes a long time to develop  – usually 30 years or more from the first exposure to asbestos and diagnosis. Unfortunately, the risk of mesothelioma does not decrease with time. The risk appears to be lifelong.

Other asbestos-related diseases:

Asbestosis: A chronic occupational lung disease with symptoms ranging from mild-severe, asbestosis was first diagnosed in naval shipyard workers. It is characterized by severe scarring of the lung tissue from an acid produced by the body’s attempt to dissolve the asbestos fibers. Over time, the scarring may become so severe that the lungs can no longer function. It can take 10-40 years for the disease to develop.

Cancer: According to the American Cancer Association, inhalation of asbestos fibers has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer in many studies of asbestos-exposed workers. Asbestos exposure alone can cause lung cancer. When combined with smoking tobacco products, the chances of contracting lung cancer is greatly increased. Most cases of lung cancer in asbestos workers occur at least 15 years after initial exposure to asbestos. Studies have also found clear links between workplace exposure to asbestos and cancers of the larynx (voice box) and ovaries. Workplace asbestos exposure may be linked to a slightly increased risk of stomach, pharyngeal, and colorectal cancer.

Pleural Plaques: By far the most common indication of significant exposure to asbestos, pleural plaques are characterized by areas of fibrous thickening on the lining of the lungs (pleura) or diaphragm. The condition typically arises 20 to 30 years after asbestos exposure. The plaques can calcify over time, but they do not cause long-term health problems.

Diffuse Pleural Thickening: Exposure to asbestos can cause diffuse pleural thickening in which lesions appear on the pleural lining and cause the area to thicken. This condition often decreases a patient’s lung function.

Pulmonary Fibrosis: Asbestos exposure is one of the conditions associated with pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that scars and thickens the tissue around and between the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. Workers –  like miners – are at increased risk.

Studies have also suggested an association between asbestos exposure and other cancers, including cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, throat, kidney, brain, bladder, voice box, gallbladder, and others. However, the evidence is inconclusive.

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Get legal help from experienced asbestos attorneys

In most states, the statute of limitations clock begins to tick when you learn you are suffering from mesothelioma, or should have learned of it.  Building a case swiftly is the best way to ensure that your suffering doesn’t go unanswered.

You deserve your rights, your health, and your due. You can fight back, no matter how long it has been since you were put in harm’s way. If you or a loved one have been exposed to asbestos or have received a diagnosis for mesothelioma, call The Goldberg Law Firm immediately.

Steven M. Goldberg and his staff are one of America’s premier legal teams championing asbestos sufferers.  Our experts on-staff have one of nation’s most extensive legal and medical research libraries.  Even more important is our long track record of delivering justice to mesothelioma victims and others who have fallen prey to asbestos.   Some of our results include:

  • The $3.9 million awarded to a New York plumber’s wife and family for injuries suffered as a result of his mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos.
  • The$1.6 million settlement awarded to an Ohio worker and his children as a result of his mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos.
  • The $1.2 million settlement awarded to an Ohio worker, his wife and children as a result of his mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos.
  • The $814,000 settlement awarded to a Virginia worker as a result of his mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos.

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Asbestos attorneys in Ohio – who travel

We are based in Cleveland, Ohio, but travel to our clients – wherever they may live.  It is common for us to travel to “snowbird” clients, who moved to warmer parts of the US – like Florida or Arizona.  Often, these clients originally hail from colder, often northern parts of the country that industrialized early and used asbestos extensively.

Our attorneys and medical experts understand asbestos law, and can determine how best to win you the treatment and compensation you deserve.

The only thing worse than suffering from an asbestos-related disease is suffering without ever getting justice.
Contact The Goldberg Law Firm today to discuss your options.