If you worked in an organization where you were exposed to asbestos, you are at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma, a painful cancer of the lung lining that has a high mortality rate.
Workers who can prove that they were exposed to asbestos by a particular company or companies may be eligible for compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. You could receive funds for medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost earnings. But to receive payment, you need to prove that the defendant exposed you to asbestos.
Below is more information about asbestos exposure and how it can be proven in a personal injury lawsuit.
Asbestos and Mesothelioma Risk
Asbestos is a group of minerals that occurs in the earth as bundles of sharp fibers. Asbestos is made of oxygen, silicon, and several other elements. There are two major forms of asbestos: (Cancer.org)
- Chrysotile asbestos, also called white asbestos, is the more common form of asbestos that is used in many industrial applications.
- Amphibole asbestos. There are several different types named by color, including brown asbestos and blue asbestos.
Both forms of asbestos have been connected with mesothelioma and other serious diseases, including asbestosis.
Asbestos has been used often in industry and manufacturing because it is strong, heat resistant, and does not conduct electricity. For these reasons, asbestos has been used as an insulating material for centuries. Asbestos was used until as late as the 1980s in factories, ships, boilers, schools, and homes. It also was used to manufacture brake and clutch parts, shingles, floor tiles, cement, and many other products.
During the mid-20th century, there was damning evidence that breathing in asbestos fibers caused lung damage that could eventually lead to mesothelioma.
How People Are Exposed to Asbestos
You can be exposed to asbestos in many ways, both at work and in the home:
- Inhaling: Most asbestos exposure is from inhaling asbestos fibers. This frequently occurs when asbestos is mined and processed. It also happens when products containing asbestos are manufactured, or when asbestos insulation is installed. Asbestos inhalation also may occur when an older building is renovated or demolished. In any of these scenarios, billions of invisible asbestos fibers can be breathed into the lungs where they become lodged.
- Swallowing: Asbestos fibers also can be swallowed. This may occur when people consume liquids or foods. It also can happen if you cough up asbestos that was inhaled into the lungs.
Many people can be exposed to low levels of asbestos that occurs in the air as rocks containing asbestos erode. But people with the most exposure to asbestos and the likelihood to get mesothelioma are those who were employed in asbestos-related industries, such as shipbuilding, auto repair, or construction. Many workers in these industries remember spending hours per day in clouds of asbestos dust for months or years.
How To Prove Asbestos Exposure
It is one thing to say that you think you were exposed to asbestos at work. It is another thing to prove it. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and suspect a company exposed you to asbestos, you will need to prove the following with the help of your mesothelioma attorney: (Cascadebusnews.com)
- You are suffering from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease. Proof usually consists of an official diagnosis from your physician or oncologist.
- Your asbestos exposure occurred at a specific workplace. Your mesothelioma attorney should have access to a large database of companies that worked with asbestos or asbestos-containing materials. He can research your case and determine if it is possible to pinpoint the place where your asbestos exposure occurred. It can take decades for mesothelioma to develop, so identifying the company that exposed you can be challenging. Eyewitness testimony may be crucial.
- Your employer knew that asbestos exposure was dangerous. Most types of asbestos have been banned in the United States since the 1980s, so most employers should have known the material was hazardous. Your attorney may be able to find company documents that show it was aware of asbestos dangers.
- Your employer did not take proper actions to protect you and other workers from asbestos exposure. If your company did not perform risk assessments, did not provide safety equipment, and/or had no policies regarding safe handling of asbestos, these would be convincing proof.
What To Do If You Were Exposed to Asbestos
If you think you were exposed to asbestos, it is critical to assess how much and for how long. If you were exposed only for a few hours or days, your risk of developing mesothelioma is low. But if you were exposed to asbestos at high levels for months or years, the odds of getting mesothelioma is higher.
Below are some key tips to protect your health:
- If you were ever exposed to asbestos and you smoke, it is vital to stop immediately. There is convincing evidence that smoking, combined with asbestos exposure, increases your chances of getting asbestos cancer.
- Talk to your physician about whether you should have regular examinations to look for signs of diseases caused by asbestos exposure. This is even more important if you smoke. Some physicians recommend that people who were exposed heavily to asbestos should have chest X-rays annually. CT scans and lung function tests may also be warranted. While these tests cannot detect asbestos fibers, they can reveal problems such as cancer that can be better treated in early stages.
- Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms that may be related to asbestos exposure, such as shortness of breath, pain in the ribs or back, difficulty swallowing, or unintended weight loss.
It is a good idea to speak to a licensed mesothelioma attorney who can work to determine which companies may have exposed you to asbestos. Your attorney can access large databases of current and bankrupt companies that exposed their workers to asbestos. He can possibly track down the company that exposed you to the dangerous mineral.
It has been known for decades that asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma. If you believe you were exposed to asbestos from a former employer, you may be eligible for mesothelioma compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. Teaming with an experienced mesothelioma attorney is necessary to determine which company exposed you and to prove it in court. Talk to a skilled attorney about your case today.