If asbestos fibers are breathed in or swallowed, victims can develop deadly illnesses like mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis. Although asbestos has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, it is still not banned in the U.S.
Asbestos exposure can cause a variety of illnesses, ranging from mild pleural plaques to deadly cancers like mesothelioma. Get a breakdown of some of the most common diseases below.
Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a rare cancer that can form in the linings of the lungs, heart, abdomen, or testicles.
Most cases of mesothelioma are not diagnosed until after the cancer has spread to other areas in the body, making it harder to treat. However, if mesothelioma is caught early on, patients may be able to live several years after their diagnosis.
Asbestosis is a non-cancerous lung disease that causes lung scarring and breathing problems. This disease forms after asbestos fibers get trapped inside the lungs.
In cases of asbestosis, the scarring does not cause cancerous tumors to form. Instead, the lung gets progressively weaker and stiffer, leading to painful symptoms such as a persistent cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
There is no cure for asbestosis, and treatments can only help keep affected patients comfortable. Asbestosis worsens over time and can be fatal.
Asbestos may cause lung cancer if the fibers get trapped in the lungs and cause the formation of malignant (cancerous) tumors.
Approximately 4,000 cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year are caused by asbestos exposure.
While lung cancer can be deadly, there are treatment options if it is caught early on. Lung cancer tumors tend to appear as growths, meaning that they can be identified and removed, potentially increasing survival time.
How Asbestos Causes Mesothelioma
The only proven cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. From the 1930s to the early 1980s, asbestos was widely used in blue-collar industries and the military. Corporations knew working with this mineral could harm employees, but they hid the truth, knowing they could make a huge profit selling asbestos products during World War II.
When asbestos products are disturbed, the fibers may be inhaled or ingested.
The asbestos fibers may then become lodged into various organ linings.
Once the fibers become stuck, they damage healthy tissue.
In some cases, this tissue damage causes cancerous tumors to form.
Types of Asbestos
Asbestos is often used as a blanket term when describing the only known cause of mesothelioma, but there are, in fact, several different types of asbestos. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identifies six different types of.The six types of asbestos are:
- Chrysotile, also called serpentine
- Crocidolite, also called riebeckite
- Amosite, also called cummingtonite-grunerite
- Actinolite asbestos
Common Asbestos-Containing Products
A wide variety of products were made using asbestos since the material was cheap, common, and useful in a number of applications.The following products may contain asbestos:
- Baby powder
- Brake pads
- Ceiling tiles
- Flooring tiles
Some of these products may still contain asbestos even today despite the well-known health risks.
In May 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found asbestos in Claire’s makeup, which is marketed towards girls and teenagers.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), most people develop asbestos-related illnesses from being regularly exposed at their job. Before the health risks were widely known, dozens of jobs put people in direct contact with asbestos.
Asbestos and Construction
Asbestos, since it is so versatile, could be found in dozens of construction materials. From the 1930s to the early 1980s, many construction workers handled these products on a daily basis.
Asbestos and Auto Mechanics
Sarcomatoid mesothelioma accounts for around 20% of mesothelioma tumors. These cells grow and spread much faster than epithelioid cells, making them harder to treat.
Asbestos and the Military
For over 60 years, the United States military used asbestos products without knowing the deadly risks. The use of asbestos exploded during World War II and did not slow down until the early 1980s.
Asbestos was considered the ideal military-grade material because it was an excellent fire retardant and insulator.It was used in many military structures, including:
The U.S. Air Force used asbestos-containing products to prevent its planes, helicopters, and ships from catching on fire. Asbestos was thought of as a perfect product for the Air Force since it was lightweight and resisted fire extremely well.
Anyone who served in the U.S. Army when asbestos was used could have been exposed to asbestos, but some were at a higher risk. In particular, Army construction workers and mechanics often faced daily asbestos exposure.
Almost all of the Coast Guard’s vehicles and aircraft relied on asbestos-containing products. Unfortunately, anyone who served in the Coast Guard could inhale asbestos fibers on a daily basis due to this widespread use.
U.S. Marines could work alongside any other branch of the military, meaning that they could be at risk of asbestos exposure from many different places. Marines who served aboard Navy ships for long periods of time ran a high risk, as did those who worked in shipyards.
No branch of the military used more asbestos than the U.S. Navy. Navy ships were lined with asbestos, and many different types of Navy equipment also contained asbestos.
Meet Walter, a Mesothelioma Warrior
Walter, a Sokolove Law client and U.S. Navy veteran, talks about why he filed a mesothelioma lawsuit.
He said, “You have all your paperwork in order?” I said, “Yes I do.” He said, “Well, keep it there” Nobody ever said anything, about it being dangerous. The powers at be knew. I said, “Well, heck with this noise. They’re gonna hear from me.” I wasn’t suing the government, I wasn’t suing the U.S. Navy, I was suing the manufacturer. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation.
“I’m blown away by their quick response times and amazing customer service. Teresa went above and beyond and I could not appreciate that more. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
“All of the personnel I’ve spoken with have been courteous and helpful. Thank you for making this experience as stress-free as possible.”
Recognition & Affiliation
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can file a mesothelioma claim?
A person who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma – as well as their spouse, child, or family member – may be able to file a claim to recover compensation from manufacturers of asbestos products. If the mesothelioma patient passes away, a family member or estate representative may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
How much money is in the asbestos trust fund?
An estimated $30 billion has been set aside in asbestos trust funds to compensate mesothelioma patients. Many companies that made asbestos products later filed for bankruptcy, so they created these trust funds to pay out future mesothelioma claims. If the company responsible for your asbestos exposure no longer exists, you may be entitled to money from their trust fund.
How do I file a mesothelioma claim?
To file a mesothelioma claim, contact an attorney who is experienced with these types of lawsuits. They will know where and when to file your claim, how to build the strongest case possible, and the best way to maximize compensation on your behalf.
What is the statute of limitations on mesothelioma claims?
The statute of limitations (deadline to file) for mesothelioma claims will vary depending on the state in which you file. In many states, it’s 2-3 years from the date of the mesothelioma diagnosis – though it may be longer if the mesothelioma patient has passed away. A mesothelioma lawyer can make sure your claim is filed within the required time frame.
How long do mesothelioma claims take?
Every mesothelioma claim is different, with circumstances and factors that are unique to that mesothelioma patient’s story. Though there’s no way to predict exactly how long a claim will take, an experienced mesothelioma attorney will ensure the process is handled as efficiently as possible.
Many claimants start to receive compensation in as few as 90 days after settling their mesothelioma claims.
What is the average payout for mesothelioma?
There is no guarantee of compensation when you file a mesothelioma claim, and countless factors affect how much money you might be able to recover (assuming your case settles). That said, 95% of these lawsuits are settled out of court, and the average settlement amount is $1-1.4 million.
How much is my mesothelioma claim worth?
Your mesothelioma case value depends on the specifics of your situation, such as the duration of your asbestos exposure, and the total cost of your mesothelioma treatment (as well as travel expenses and other related losses). The best way to figure out how much your claim is worth is to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer.
What type of mesothelioma claim do I have?
Most mesothelioma claims fall under one of four categories:
- Personal injury: You were exposed to asbestos (often through your job, or your loved one’s), so you file a lawsuit against the company that made the asbestos products.
- Asbestos trust fund: Similar to a personal injury claim, only the company in question went bankrupt, so you can’t sue them – but you may be able to access a trust fund they set aside for mesothelioma victims.
- Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits: U.S. military veterans who were exposed to asbestos during their service may qualify for related health care benefits through the VA.
- Wrongful death: When a mesothelioma patient passes away, their family member or estate representative may be able to file a lawsuit on their behalf, seeking money to pay for past medical expenses, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, etc.
A mesothelioma attorney can determine which type of claim makes the most sense for you and your family. (Some clients qualify for more than one.)
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