Asbestosis is one of the most common asbestos-related diseases. Asbestosis is a chronic, inflammatory lung disease, but unlike asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma, it is not cancerous. Asbestos exposure is the only cause of asbestosis.
What is Asbestosis?
Inhaled asbestos fibers lodge in the inner lung tissue. They attach like Velcro to the alveoli or tiny air sacs, and it is impossible to exhale them.
The body’s immune system can’t break down or decompose asbestos fibers as it does with organic and biological impurities. These microscopic asbestos particles cover the lung interior and stay permanently in place. The body’s natural recourse is to form scar tissue over the trapped asbestos fibers.
Eventually, this mass of scar tissue thickens and hardens. It causes the lungs to stiffen, then normal expansion and contraction of the lungs becomes difficult or impossible.
Asbestosis doesn’t metastasize or spread like cancer tumors. Rather, the scar tissue makes breathing so difficult that the asbestosis victim essentially suffocates over time. This disease also stresses other body functions and can send the patient into multiple organ failures or cardiac arrest.
Asbestosis Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Asbestosis is a lung disease directly related to asbestos exposure. It’s confined to the lungs whereas other asbestos diseases affect multiple organs like the heart, kidneys, intestinal tract, ovaries, and testicles.
Asbestosis remains benign in the lungs, but it’s a devastating disease. The worst thing about asbestosis is the pain and discomfort of the symptoms present.
Asbestosis symptoms include:
- Chest pain and shortness of breath
- Chronic fatigue and lack of oxygenated blood
- Dry and persistent coughing
- Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss
- Swelling of fingertips known as clubbing
Treating asbestosis is nearly impossible—short of a lung transplant. This asbestos-related disease is not curable. Its only treatment is to manage the symptoms and make the patient comfortable.
Oxygen therapy is the main auxiliary treatment. Many asbestosis patients find themselves permanently attached to an oxygen bottle and being supported by pain-relieving medications.
Smoking is the worst thing an asbestosis patient can do. Studies conclusively show that smokers were at least 50 times more likely to develop asbestosis than non-smokers.
Even when exposed to the same amount, duration, and asbestos fiber type, smokers far outnumbered tobacco sustainers in developing asbestosis. Continued smoking severely increased asbestosis advancement.
Physicians who recognize the symptoms and isolate asbestosis find that it is easy to tell the difference between this lung disease from other pulmonary disorders like emphysema, bronchitis and COPD. Discussing a history of asbestos exposure is a primary diagnostic step.
A diagnosis is confirmed by chest X-rays, biopsies and blood work to confirm this disease so management plans can begin. Typical cancer intervention treatments like surgery, radiation and chemotherapy don’t work with asbestosis since it is not a cancer.
Compensation for Asbestosis Victims
Sufferers who developed asbestosis through workplace asbestos exposure can claim compensation from negligent employers and manufacturers of asbestos-containing materials. Strong cases proving negligence have court precedents, and legal counsel should be sought to pursue compensation claims.
Many states have statutory time limits on filing an action against those who negligently caused workers to suffer from asbestosis. The clock starts from the time asbestosis is diagnosed by a medical practitioner, not from the time a worker was last exposed to asbestos-containing materials.
Compensation payments include settlements for medical expenses, lost income and punitive damages for personal injury. Families of asbestosis patients may claim on their behalf. They can also file lawsuits in wrongful death cases.
For more information on legal action and compensation, fill out our quick form for a free case review.
- EMedicine, “Asbestosis” Retrieved from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/295966-overview Accessed 16 December, 2017
- Mayo Clinic, “Asbestosis Overview” Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asbestosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354637 Accessed 16 December, 2017
- Merck Manuals, “Asbestosis” Retrieved from http://www.merckmanuals.com/en-ca/professional/pulmonary-disorders/environmental-pulmonary-diseases/asbestosis Accessed 16 December, 2017
- National Cancer Institute, “Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk” Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/asbestos/asbestos-fact-sheet Accessed on 16 December, 2017
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration, “Asbestos Risks” Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos/index.html Accessed on 16 December, 2017
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Health Effects from Exposure to Asbestos” Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/learn-about-asbestos#effects Accessed on 16 December, 2017
- National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Investigating Cancer Risks Related to Asbestos and Other Occupational Carcinogens” Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2078489/ Accessed on 16 December, 2017
- American Cancer Society, “Asbestos and Cancer Risk” Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/asbestos.html Accessed on 16 December, 2017
- National Institute of Health, “Early Diagnosis of Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma in Prior Asbestos Workers” Retrieved from https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00188890 Accessed on 16 December, 2017
Easier Than It May Seem
Your individual situation may merit an actual lawsuit. However, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Trusts have been set up to benefit victims of mesothelioma in such a way that lawsuits and court appearances aren’t needed. Contact us today and you’ll see how easy it can be to get the compensation you deserve.
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.)