Mesothelioma Linked to Asbestos Exposure
It’s common knowledge that asbestos is potentially-deadly to human health. Although this dangerous product has been stripped out of buildings, ships and other places across the country, new cases of asbestos-related illness are being diagnosed every day. Mesothelioma linked to asbestos exposure remains a source of lawsuits across America.
At the Smith Law Center, we help people diagnosed with terminal illnesses from no fault of their own. These people often worked with asbestos or were exposed to it in homes. We are committed to fighting for the rights of those who were injured by asbestos.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring material. For decades, its heat-resistant qualities meant it was used in industry and homes. Pure asbestos is an effective heat insulator. Manufacturers mixed it with other materials like plastic and cement to make them more resilient. As well as being resistant to heat, asbestos is a barrier to electricity and chemical corrosion.
The use of asbestos dates back 4,500 years. Asbestos was widely used in the shipbuilding industry in Hampton Roads and in other trades. The U.S. military used asbestos extensively until 1975. It was also widely used on the railroads and in building construction.
By the early 20th century, the link between asbestos and illness was apparent. In 1918, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics discovered an abnormally high risk of early death among asbestos workers.
The deaths were caused by asbestos fibers. Asbestos contains millions of microscopic fibers. They can break apart and become airborne. When they are inhaled, the fibers lodge in the lungs, causing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.
The nature of asbestos made the consequences of exposure particularly deadly. Because fibers travel through the air, people near the material are harmed as well as those working directly with it. Former workers are still being diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases decades after exposure. The lawsuits for exposure to asbestos in Virginia and elsewhere are ongoing.
Despite the many warnings, asbestos continued to be widely used in U.S. industry until the 1980s. Many different industrial products, including furnace insulation materials, pipes, floor tiles, shingles for roofing, millboard, paints and other coating materials contained deadly asbestos.
What is Mesothelioma Linked to Asbestos Exposure?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Even today, as many as 3,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. There is no known cure for this deadly form of cancer.
Mesothelioma affects the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of the body’s internal organs. Mesothelioma is most likely to occur in the lungs. People who develop mesothelioma have almost invariably been exposed to asbestos.
When people inhale asbestos fibers, about two-thirds of the fibers are breathed out from the body. Some of the fibers remain and become lodged in the lining of the lungs (known as the pleura), the heart and the abdominal cavity. The tiny fibers cause scarring, genetic changes and other inflammation that can develop into mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma often does not develop until years after exposure to asbestos. In some cases, people have been diagnosed with cancer 40 years after they worked with asbestos. Up to 80 percent of cases of mesothelioma are work-related.
Bringing Lawsuits Over Mesothelioma Linked to Asbestos Exposure
The earliest lawsuits brought by the victims of exposure to asbestos were filed in the 1960s. Asbestos lawsuits are unusual in that a victim may take so long to develop symptoms. That does not mean the victims won’t win substantial monetary damages, either from a company that manufactured or installed the asbestos. However, these cases can be complex. Often companies have folded or been taken over. A Virginia asbestos exposure lawyer will track down who is responsible for your illness.
Although an original manufacturer may no longer be in business, a victim or the family of a victim can often make a claim from an insurance company or an asbestos victims’ trust fund that has taken over liability for the company.
How Long Do People With Mesothelioma Have to Sue?
Mesothelioma often develops 10 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. State laws known as statutes of limitations typically give people one to five years from the diagnosis or discovery of the disease to bring an action. The Statute of Limitations in Virginia gives people who have been injured two years to sue. This means it’s important to act quickly once you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
When a mesothelioma victim has already died, his or her spouse and other heirs typically have two years in Virginia from the date of death to bring a wrongful death action. These cases can result in the recovery of substantial damages.
Mesothelioma victims do not typically join in class actions lawsuits such as those against the makers of dangerous drugs because each person’s medical history and condition is different. Mesothelioma cases must be filed individually.
Contact a Virginia Mesothelioma Attorney
The lawyers at the Smith Law Center are familiar with asbestos-related mesothelioma lawsuits. This is a painful and terrible disease with no known cure. Often companies continued to use asbestos products for many years despite being aware of the devastating effect they had on the health of workers. It’s important to hold these companies liable for their inaction.
The trial lawyers are the Smith Law Center are committed to helping the injured. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation about a possible lawsuit related to mesothelioma linked to asbestos exposure. Call (757) 244.7000.
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