Am I Eligible to Participate in a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos, you may be eligible to participate in a mesothelioma lawsuit or asbestos exposure trust fund claim. Mesothelioma is a crushing diagnosis and the companies that are responsible for causing this disease should compensate those they injured by their disregard for safety. There are deadlines for filing claims and state laws can be complicated when attempting to recover a mesothelioma claim.
The experienced personal injury lawyers at Gerling Law can protect you and ensure that you receive the full compensation you deserve. We will work diligently in handling all aspects of your claim so that you can know your claim is being handled professionally and focus on your future. Contact our firm of knowledgeable, dedicated attorneys to schedule a free consultation today and allow us to explain how we can help to maximize the compensation available to you.
Gerling Law Works on a Contingency Basis
Experienced mesothelioma lawyers will work on a contingency basis, which means there are no upfront costs. We only get paid if you receive money.
What is Malignant Mesothelioma?
The tissue that lines your lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs is called the mesothelium. Malignant mesothelioma (me-zoe-thee-lee-O-muh) is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that occurs in the thin lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart, and other organs. It is a difficult condition to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to many other diseases and it usually takes twenty to fifty years to develop and become noticeable. The average age at the time of diagnosis is 72. Treatments are available, but for many people a cure is not possible. There are different types based on what part of the mesothelium is affected. It most often affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs (pleural mesothelioma). Other, rarer types of mesothelioma affect tissue in the lining of the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma) and in the lining of the heart (pericardial mesothelioma), but can eventually spread to other vital organs and throughout the body.
How Does Exposure Happen?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring group of minerals that occur naturally as bundles of fibers. These fibers, found in soil and rocks in many parts of the world, are made of silicon, oxygen, and other elements. When asbestos fibers in the air are inhaled, they tend to stick to mucus in the throat, trachea (windpipe), or bronchi (large breathing tubes of the lungs). Chrysotile fibers tend to be cleared from the lungs by being coughed up or swallowed. But the long, thin amphibole fibers are harder to clear, and they may stay in the lungs, traveling to the ends of the small airways and penetrating into the pleural lining of the lung and chest wall. These fibers may then injure mesothelial cells of the pleura, and eventually cause mesothelioma.
Despite the fact that asbestos is classified as a known human carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer), it has been used in many products because of its heat and fire resistant properties. Asbestos has strong but pliable fibers and is heat resistant, which made asbestos useful for many commercial and industrial purposes including insulation. Unfortunately, asbestos also breaks down into small fibers, and that makes it easy to inhale or swallow asbestos dust. The health hazards of asbestos have been known since the 1920s.
Between the 1930s and 1970s, the use of asbestos in products increased dramatically. In that amount of time, asbestos could be found in about 3,000 widely used products. Products traditionally using asbestos include insulation, floor tiles, door gaskets, soundproofing, roofing, patching compounds, fireproof gloves, fire retardants and barriers, heat-resistant fabrics and protective clothing, ironing board covers, roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, cement products, automotive friction products, including brakes, clutches and transmission parts, boilers and furnaces, packaging, gaskets and coatings, and brake pads. But, asbestos has even been used in products such as hair dryers.
In 1964, a rare form of cancer called “mesothelioma” had been proven to be directly caused by asbestos exposure. Despite this, many manufacturers continued to use it in a variety of industrial settings and in numerous consumer products. When a person develops mesothelioma, it is generally assumed that asbestos exposure is the reason that the cancer developed. Because of this, manufacturers of asbestos or asbestos-containing products, companies that installed asbestos in plants and factories, and employers who exposed their employees to these harmful products may be legally compelled to compensate victims who developed this form of cancer through exposure to their asbestos products and their families.
In 1973, under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act, spray applied asbestos products were banned for fireproofing and insulating. Going even further in 1989, the EPA enacted the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule which was designed to eliminate the use of asbestos in manufacturing processes.
Banned Products Containing Asbestos
In 1991, the ban was overturned in Corrosion Proof Fittings v. the Environmental Protection Agency. However, six categories of products remained banned:
- Corrugated paper
- Commercial paper
- Specialty paper
- Flooring felt
- New commercial uses of asbestos that begin after August 25, 1989
Federal law still allows what it says is “limited use” of asbestos, and in 2016, Congress amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to create a process for regulating the dangerous substance. However, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) released a report stating that the U.S. imported around 750 metric tons of raw asbestos in 2018. This is more than double the amount imported just a year earlier, and the largest amount imported into the country since 2013.
While the EPA issued a final rule in April 2019, which became effective June 24, 2019, prohibiting most asbestos products from entering the market, some uses are still legal including asbestos diaphragms, sheet gaskets, oilfield brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes/linings, other vehicle friction products, and other gaskets.
Do I Have Mesothelioma?
Risk Factors for Mesothelioma
The main risk factor for developing mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. The risk of developing mesothelioma mainly depends on the amount and time of the exposure. Most cases of mesothelioma have been linked to repeated asbestos exposure in the workplace.
Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer. Your doctor uses imaging tests and a biopsy to make the diagnosis. Malignant mesothelioma is often found when it is advanced. Mesothelioma can take decades to develop after first exposure. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says the time between the first asbestos exposure and diagnosis of mesothelioma is usually between 20 and 50 years. And the risk of mesothelioma does not go down over time after the exposure to asbestos stops, says the ACS. The risk appears to be lifelong.
If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away—even if you do not have symptoms. Your doctor can refer you to a specialist who will administer tests and develop a monitoring plan that could help detect mesothelioma sooner. Early detection could lead to better treatment options and outcomes. See your doctor to assess your risk today.
Symptoms of Malignant Mesothelioma
- Trouble breathing
- Pain, swelling, or lumps in the abdomen
- Chest pain under the rib cage
- Painful coughing
- Prolonged coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on your chest
- Unexplained weight loss
- Collapse of lung
- Blood in sputum (phlegm) coughed up from the lungs
- Difficulty swallowing
- Prolonged hoarseness
- Low oxygen levels
Although the above-referenced symptoms may have other causes, if you are experiencing them and have been exposed to asbestos, or if you suspect that you may have mesotheliomas, you should promptly see your doctor or contact us and we will refer you to a known specialist. Mesothelioma is diagnosed by your doctor using various methods to gather information that may lead to a diagnosis. These will include:
- Physical exam
- Health history review including possible asbestos exposure
- Blood tests such as SOMAmer and MESOMARK
- Chest X-ray of organs and bones inside chest
- CT scan: Computerized tomography scan – medical imaging that combines multiple X-ray measurements taken from different angles to produce tomographic images of the inside of the body
- MRI scan: Magnetic resonance imaging – medical imaging that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to generate images of the organs in the body
- PET scan: Positon emission tomography – medical imaging that helps reveal how tissues and organs are functioning by using radioactive drug tracer to show activity
- Biopsy: Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy of the lung – the removal of tissue or fluid from the lung using a thin needle
Types of Jobs Most At Risk of Mesothelioma Caused by Asbestos Exposure
Contrary to popular belief, asbestos is not illegal in the United States. It was widely used for decades causing many American workers to encounter asbestos products or raw asbestos in bulk at their workplaces or job sites. Although the use of asbestos in products has decreased in the U.S., millions of Americans are still being exposed to asbestos in their workplace. Even today, more than 70% of the world still uses asbestos in products. The workers who have been found to have been most likely to have workplace exposure to asbestos include the following:
- Aircraft mechanics
- Auto mechanics
- Brake mechanics
- Cement finishers
- Chemical plant workers
- Construction workers
- Crane Operators
- Factory workers
- Foundry workers
- Gas mask manufacturers
- Insulation manufacturers and installers
- Maintenance Workers
- Masonry Workers
- Merchant Marine Seamen
- Navy Yard Workers (“Yardbirds”)
- Paper Mill Workers
- Pipe Coverers
- Plant Workers
- Powerhouse Workers
- Railroad and automotive workers
- Sheetmetal Workers
It is estimated that about 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the United States. Family members of people exposed to asbestos at work can also have an increased risk of developing a mesothelioma case because asbestos fibers can be carried home on the clothes of the workers. Sadly, it is not an uncommon situation to have the factory worker exposed to asbestos during his workday, unknowingly bring home the cancerous minerals at the end of a workday exposing his entire family to the potential of this cancerous material.
Seeking Compensation from Mesothelioma Lawsuit Settlement
When asbestos workers are not adequately warned that their exposure to asbestos could result in mesothelioma, the worker or family members may have legal options, including filing a mesothelioma lawsuit. If you believe that you may qualify for a mesothelioma lawsuit or asbestos exposure lawsuit, contact a lawyer from Gerling Law today to discuss your potential legal options.
The mesothelioma lawsuit will allege that one or more parties had a duty to warn the injured person about the dangers of asbestos, failed to provide adequate warnings and that, as a result, the person developed mesothelioma and is entitled to be awarded compensation as damages for those injuries. Some of the items of compensatory damages that could be recovered are:
- Medical bills
- Travel expenses associated with medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Caregiver/facility fees
- Physical therapy
- Psychological counseling
- Household expenses
- Funeral costs
- Wrongful death
- Financial security for your family
Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit
There are some important steps you should take before beginning the mesothelioma lawsuit process. First, you should try to mitigate your injuries by removing yourself from any potential asbestos exposure areas, seeking proper medical treatment, and following your doctor’s instructions.
Next, you should retain your mesothelioma lawyer to represent you.
Third, working with your lawyer, you should learn about the lawsuit process to familiarize yourself with the important timelines and procedures of a mesothelioma lawsuit. Each state has its own deadline, or statute of limitations, for allowing victims of asbestos cancer to file a mesothelioma lawsuit.
Lastly, together with your lawyer, you will need to gather your evidence that supports your claim. This may include, but is not limited to, medical records, work records, your doctor’s expert testimony, your and your loved ones’ personal testimony, and bills associated with your injury.
Submitting a Claim to the Asbestos Trust Fund
Another source of compensation for asbestos exposure is the asbestos trust fund.
A mesothelioma lawyer can submit a claim against an asbestos trust fund, which contains funds to pay out set amounts to individuals who were exposed to asbestos and developed mesothelioma or other injuries.
What is the Asbestos Trust Fund?
Asbestos trust funds originated in the 1970s, when it became clear that asbestos was the primary cause of mesothelioma. Many of the companies that produced or sold products containing asbestos began going bankrupt because of the mesothelioma lawsuits filed against them that were eventually settled. The money allocated to the trust allows for all current and future asbestos claims to be paid out to those injured. Basically, the trusts compensate workers injured by negligent companies that sold or manufactured products containing asbestos.
Over $500 Million in Recoveries
I called my insurance company to start my claim – then I immediately called Gerling. They know the laws; they know the ins and outs. If you want something done – and done right – call Gerling. They know what they are doing.
What's the First Step?
The first step in the legal process is to contact a mesothelioma lawyer for a free consultation. Gerling Law's staff of attorneys, paralegals, and case support personnel are skilled at providing the extraordinary personal attention that your mesothelioma lawsuit deserves. Your lawyer will review your work history, medical history and other facts pertinent to your case and advise you on your eligibility to participate in a mesothelioma lawsuit. Contact Gerling Law today for a free, no-obligation mesothelioma lawsuit consultation.
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