Written by Andrew Sarski on January 14, 2011
Unfortunately, mesothelioma is a very serious condition which typically results in death. Victims of mesothelioma are not at fault and should consider their legal options when dealing with their illness. The only way to receive fair compensation for the serious consequences and medical expenses involved in mesothelioma cases is to hire an occupational disease attorney to represent your case.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare but serious form of cancer that affects the tissue lining the lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs. The disease typically originates in the lungs, but can also start in the abdomen or other organs. The most common cause of mesothelioma is inhalation of asbestos particles or exposure to asbestos dust or fibers. Even minimal exposure to asbestos, such as washing the clothes of a family member or living with someone who was exposed to asbestos can put that person at risk for developing mesothelioma. Unfortunately, this disease can take anywhere from thirty to fifty years or more to present after asbestos exposure, sometimes making it difficult to determine the exact source.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Common symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath, coughing, weight loss and chest pain. In severe cases of mesothelioma, the affected individual may develop tumors or a collapsed lung, which may be accompanied by symptoms like abdominal pain, fluid buildup in the abdomen, bowel difficulties, blood clots in the veins, jaundice, and low blood sugar level. In some instances, the disease can spread to other parts of the body. Mesothelioma can be diagnosed by a chest x-ray and CT scan, and confirmed with a biopsy. Possible treatments for this disease include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery, which are more effective the earlier the mesothelioma is detected and treated. Unfortunately, because of the amount of time it takes for victims to exhibit symptoms of mesothelioma, most cases aren’t diagnosed until the latest stages of development. Despite these treatments, the prognosis for mesothelioma patients is typically grim.
In 2005, the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety issued a report providing data on the 18,068 reported mesothelioma deaths in the United States from 1999-2005. According to this report, the industries with the highest risk of mesothelioma from asbestos exposure were electric light and power, construction, industrial and miscellaneous chemicals, petroleum refining, and shipbuilding and repairing. The most shocking data estimates that perhaps 100,000 asbestos-related deaths may have occurred in the shipbuilding industry, which employed 4.3 million people during World War II.
History of Asbestos Exposure
Exposure to asbestos has been known as an extremely dangerous occupational health hazard since the beginning of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, asbestos has been used in numerous products, including cement, roof shingles, insulation, textiles, flooring, brake linings, and more. In Australia, asbestos was commercially mined between 1945 and 1966. While no miner deaths were reported in the first ten years after exposure, 85 deaths connected to asbestos were reported by 1985. During the next ten years, there were 539 mesothelioma deaths in that area of Australia. Currently, the only known cause of malignant mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.
Up until the 1970s, many commercial and domestic building products and insulation materials contained asbestos. Today, some products still contain asbestos but are required to be appropriately labeled. In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a ban on most products containing asbestos, but the regulation was overturned in 1991, making it legal to use asbestos in products that were established prior to 1989, but not in new products.
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Legal Help
Despite the proven dangers of this material, asbestos is not banned in the United States, and there are approximately 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the U.S. each year. If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma as a result of either first- or second-hand asbestos exposure, you should consider how an occupational disease lawsuit can benefit you. Mesothelioma victims who have filed lawsuits have collected hundreds of thousands of dollars and even multi-million dollar payouts in damages for their medical expenses and pain and suffering. In the event of a fatality, the lawsuit can be filed by a family member or the executor of the victim’s estate. Occupational disease attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced, equipped with the tools and skills necessary to develop your case. If you have been the victim of asbestos-related mesothelioma, you are not at fault. With a qualified occupational disease lawyer, victims of mesothelioma can receive fair settlement or damages for their injuries.