There are many reasons why people get certain types of cancer. In some cases, we have bad habits that contribute to our getting the disease. Many times, it’s genetic and there’s little we can do to avoid our fate. However, mesothelioma has only one known cause – exposure to toxic asbestos.
For decades, little thought was given to working with asbestos. In many places of employment, asbestos-containing materials were commonplace, though now we know that exposure to the mineral was making many people sick, especially those who worked in industries that included shipbuilding, construction, auto maintenance, steel mills, power plants, chemical factories, and many other places of employment.
While employers maintained that asbestos materials were protecting workers from fires or burns, in actuality, the material was compromising their respiratory systems.
Truly, most workers who were exposed to asbestos on a regular basis had no idea that their health was at risk. Some even brought the toxic dust home to their loved ones on their hair or clothing, not knowing it was dangerous. As a result, spouses or children – decades later – eventually developed cases of second-hand mesothelioma.
Unfortunately, decades of litigation have proven that many employers were aware that asbestos was dangerous yet offered nothing to protect their employees, including safety gear or the substitution of asbestos with similar but safer products.
If you have pleural, peritoneal or pericardial mesothelioma, someone is responsible for your asbestos poisoning. That someone might be a company you worked for many years ago – a place where asbestos use was common.
You may not even remember working with asbestos, however, the proof of exposure is in your medical diagnosis.
Since the 1960s, nearly a million asbestos poisoning suits have been filed all over the United States. Victims of mesothelioma have sued employers or former employers, manufacturers of asbestos products, and others responsible for their exposure.
Some victims are hesitant to file suit. But, upon examination, the reasons why a suit is often viable are simple. After all, if you worked in a position that put you in contact with asbestos, you should have been made aware that the asbestos was a danger to your health!
A wealth of records that have appeared as a result of lawsuits demonstrate that – as early as the 1930s – company doctors warned owners and managers of the connection between asbestos and pulmonary diseases yet few took any actions to address those concerns. As a result, generations of workers were exposed to asbestos.
This onslaught of suits against more than 80,000 companies over the years has prompted many to file for bankruptcy, overwhelmed by the individual and class-action cases forged against them. These include W. R. Grace and Company, National Gypsum, Owens-Corning, Armstrong World Industries, Johns Manville, and many others with names you’ll surely recognize.
Unfortunately, in many cases, these bankruptcies delayed the claims for compensation to which legitimate plaintiffs were entitled. For many, compensation came too late or never came at all. However, many of these companies have now set up asbestos bankruptcy trust funds for those affected by their products and their negligence.
For some victims, these trust funds have been helpful, though there are often severe limits on how much compensation each victim will receive.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, your first priority is receiving the proper medical treatment. Another top priority should be to determine whether or not you have a right to compensation for the pain and suffering caused by the disease and for costs associated with medical treatment, loss of income, and other expenses. Consult an experienced mesothelioma attorney, who can evaluate your case and help determine how to proceed with the claim.