What is Asbestos?

Asbestos refers to small fibrous minerals that are naturally occurring.  In the past, asbestos was thought to be wonderous material that had a myriad of applications especially in the construction of buildings.  Asbestos was used in commercial buildings, schools, and homes as a form of insulation.  Asbestos was not limited to these settings but was also used in industrial settings.

When asbestos construction becomes impaired or run-down the fibers become airborne.  Once airborne they are easily inhaled and can cause a host of health problems.  Despite asbestos manufacturers’ knowledge of the carcinogenic nature, they continued to use the product for another thirty or forty years.  Even today,  asbestos can be used in trace amounts in certain products.

Different Types of Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure can take many forms but the most common is inhalation.  The problem is that diseases associated with exposure can take many years to develop.  Most of our clients are sick because of workplace exposure.  Many occupations run higher asbestos exposure risks than others.  Although workplace asbestos exposure is the most common individuals can become ill from their homes or other construction sites.

Occupational Asbestos Exposure

As stated, the most common type of asbestos exposure is in the workplace.  Working 8-10 hour days, for years, in a building filled with asbestos fibers can lead to very severe exposure.  High heat occupations can be the most susceptible because building materials like asbestos are heat resistant.  In fact, many exposure cases came from workers who are wearing protective suits made out of asbestos!  Little did they know that the thing that was supposed to protect them was actually killing them.

Numerous companies, over a wide array of industries, knew asbestos was deadly and continued to use this unsafe product.  These companies decided that it was better financially to put workers at risk than to eliminate asbestos.  Some conservative estimates show, over a 40 year period, some 40 million workers were exposed to asbestos.  Even today, approximately 125 million workers, across the globe, are still exposed.  Asbestos exposure in the workplace accounts for 70% of deaths associated with the disease.

Military Asbestos Exposure

While not as revelated as occupational asbestos exposure, our brave men and women of the armed forces were not spared the callous greed of corporate America.  Asbestos was used most commonly in aircraft, ships, vehicles as well as military bases.  Veterans and civilians make up about 30% of all mesothelioma cases.  Corporate giants were making a fortune on military contracts while putting our veteran heroes at risk.

Product Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure is not limited to buildings.  Many household products, used by millions of innocent consumers are filled with asbestos.  True, insulation and siding were the largest offenders but simple items like hairdryers and crock-pots can put people at risk of asbestos exposure.  Although regulations are in place to discontinue and future manufacturing, many homes and buildings have insulation and siding that contain asbestos.

Secondary Asbestos Exposure

Just because you did not work in a contaminated environment does not mean you were not exposed.  Like many other toxic environmental cases, asbestos can kill through cross-contamination.  Imagine living with someone who worked in an industrial plant filled with asbestos.  That person came home every day, for years, with asbestos on their clothes, in their hair, and on their skin.  Day after day, year after year the asbestos builds in the home, where the innocent occupants are inhaling it just as if they were at the job site.

Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma

The only known cause of malignant mesothelioma is asbestos exposure.  When asbestos-laden buildings are compromised, the fibers become airborne and are inhaled or ingested.  The fibers then get into the lungs and linings of organs causing severe inflammation.  This inflammation causes mesothelioma.  Although asbestos use has declined recent projections indicate that from period 1995–2029 suggest that the number of men dying from mesothelioma in Western Europe each year will almost double over the next 20 years, from 5000 in 1998 to about 9000 around 2018, and then decline, with a total of about a quarter of a million deaths over the next 35 years.  Although the naysayers will contend that there are other causes of mesothelioma none has been proven is peer-reviewed studies.

Contrary to popular belief, mesothelioma does not always have to be in the lungs.  In fact, asbestos enters the body and attaches to the lining of certain organs.  Those organ linings are known as mesothelium.

Mesothelioma from asbestos exposure can cause tumors in the lungs, abdominal linings, heart linings, and testes linings.  While tumors in the lungs are most common, other areas of the body are widely affected.

How Long Do I Have to Sue?

Mesothelioma takes a long time to develop following exposure.  Sometimes 10 to 40 years.  But it is important to act quickly because as soon as you are diagnosed, you have ONE year, to file a suit.  That is correct, one year.  The rationale being that a diagnosis of mesothelioma more likely than not will be due to asbestos exposure.  So, there is no time for delay.  If you miss the time for filing you have no case.  There will be nothing you can do and no lawyer can save your case.  Additionally, don’t believe that you can become a class action.  Asbestos exposure cases are prohibited from class action treatment because each individual’s damages are different.  You must file as an individual.

What Can I Expect From an Asbestos Lawsuit?

In our experience as asbestos exposure lawyers, most asbestos claims settle well before they get to trial.  In other words, the parties agree to an amount of compensation before going to a jury.  If you have a complete medical and employment history (or other history related to your exposure) and you hire an experienced asbestos exposure lawyer you could get your case resolved within a year.  Insurance carriers want to drag out your claim because if the Plaintiff passes away, he or she may not be entitled to emotional distress damages or pain and suffering.  But, most courts understand the short life expectancy of a mesothelioma diagnosis and get the cases moving rather quickly.

Also, many companies that produced asbestos or utilized it in their products are long out of business.  But, there may be insurance policies in effect and/or asbestos victims’ funds that can be used to compensate for damages.

If, though, your case must go to trial, the average life cycle of an asbestos exposure case is approximately 2 to 3 years.

How Much Money Can I Recover?

Like other environmental personal injury matters, the amount of just compensation for developing mesothelioma can be difficult to estimate.  One of the biggest factors is who you have to sue.  Since there has been an influx of claims over the last 20 years, resources have been depleted and victims’ funds must be rationed.  This is why hiring an experienced asbestos exposure lawyer is so critical.  Settlements can range in the millions of dollars to a fraction of that depends on who is being sued.

Another factor in determining recovery is the amount of time in the lawsuit.  As a general rule, when a settlement is offered early in the process will be less than closer to trial and certainly less than what a jury might offer.  But, asbestos exposure cases can take years to litigate and victims might not have that long to live and prefer to enjoy whatever money with the time he or she has remaining.  Of course, the choice will always be the decision of the client.

Asbestos exposure is widely known as potentially deadly.  If you or a loved one feel as if you have mesothelioma related to asbestos exposure you need a team of trial lawyers that will fight for the compensation you deserve.  Since 1976, the award-winning lawyers at Thompson Injury Law have been representing victims of asbestos exposure and other environmental claims all over Southern California.  When you need to fight massive corporation you need experience on your side.  Contact one of our experienced asbestos exposure attorneys today at 619.615.0767 or use our simple form.