While some people develop cancer as a result of lifestyle or genetics, others develop it due to environmental hazards. Mesothelioma is one such cancer. An aggressive and deadly disease, mesothelioma is treatable but, for most, not curable. The vast majority, 70% to 80%, of people diagnosed with mesothelioma develop it as a result of asbestos exposure. According to Cancer.org, about 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year in the United States.
If you or a loved one received a mesothelioma diagnosis and believe it is related to asbestos exposure, a personal injury lawyer may be able to help. Pursuing justice involves a complex legal process, but an attorney can guide you in seeking financial awards for your injuries and emotional pain and suffering. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 for a free case evaluation.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos refers to a group of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals found in places such as Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, Baer Canyon, and Avintaquin Canyon. Although it is a natural substance, it is hazardous to humans. Per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), all kinds of asbestos are dangerous and can cause severe injuries or illnesses, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and laryngeal cancer.
In addition to natural deposits, asbestos is found in many manmade products and sites throughout Utah and the United States. Studies have proven asbestos’ dangers since the early 1900s. However, because of its fire-retardant properties, manufacturers, construction companies, power plants, refineries, and factories utilized it in buildings and products around the country for decades. The United States Armed Forces also utilized the chemical in many applications. It was not until 1980 the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health issued an official warning that asbestos exposure is directly linked to an increased risk of serious injury and illness. Asbestos use significantly declined in the mid-1980s. But it remains in numerous buildings and products made in the 1960s or earlier.
In Utah, a state where mining is a prominent industry, many workers were exposed at the job site mining for asbestos. Individuals who did not go into the mines but operated equipment at mining facilities or processing plants may also have been exposed. Workers in industries such as construction and heavy industry are likewise at high risk of developing mesothelioma, as asbestos is still used in certain equipment and materials. People who live in a house made with asbestos, or near an asbestos mine, have a high risk of developing mesothelioma as well. The more asbestos a person inhales, the more likely they are to develop a serious illness.
How Mesothelioma Develops
Asbestos fibers can circulate in the air. When a person inhales these small, odorless, and tasteless particles, the fibers may become lodged in the lining of the throat, windpipe, or bronchi. If the individual does not dislodge the fibers by coughing or swallowing, the particles may travel to the lungs or abdomen and embed themselves in the organs’ mesothelium. Eventually, the fibers can damage the cells and DNA, resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma. These illnesses can develop years after asbestos exposure.
Anyone who inhales asbestos can be harmed, regardless of age or ethnicity. If you believe you are at risk of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illness, speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Early detection is crucial to increase your chance of survival if you do develop mesothelioma. A doctor may be able to use a test such as an X-ray, CT scan, ultrasound, MRI, PET, or blood test to detect abnormalities or tumors and diagnose you before you develop any symptoms. If you have been exposed to asbestos but do not want to be tested, monitor your heath, and see a doctor if you develop symptoms such as:
- Respiratory problems, such as coughing blood, wheezing, or shortness of breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
- Chronic fatigue
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Chest pain
These symptoms may indicate mesothelioma or lung cancer. The American Cancer Society states the average five-year survival rate for localized form of mesothelioma is 12 percent, while the average five-year survival rate for a distant form is 8 percent.
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Asbestos Lawsuits in Utah
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and believe it is a result of asbestos exposure, you may have legal grounds to pursue financial awards for your injuries. These awards may cover losses such as past, current, and anticipated medical bills, reduced earning capacity, lost wages, and emotional pain and suffering. If a loved one died as a result of mesothelioma, you may be eligible to recoup the cost of funeral and burial expenses as well.
Even if you have not been diagnosed with mesothelioma but have been exposed to asbestos, you may be eligible to pursue compensation for medical monitoring. A Utah mesothelioma lawyer can help.
Multiple plaintiffs in Utah have sought and received justice for asbestos exposure as a result of another party’s negligence. Five renovation workers filed a lawsuit against Mountain Fuel Supply Company in 1993 for asbestos exposure. When the suit reached the Utah Supreme Court, judges dismissed the case and ruled only plaintiffs who suffered an asbestos-related injury, such as mesothelioma, were eligible to receive damages.
But the state Supreme Court later reversed the decision. Judges ruled Mountain Fuel Supply Company was liable for the costs of medical monitoring required to detect illnesses such as mesothelioma and that these tests were necessary because of the workers’ asbestos exposure. The state established the following criteria people must meet to seek compensation for injuries related to asbestos exposure:
- Exposure to asbestos
- Exposure caused by another party’s negligence
- Exposure resulting in an increased risk of serious disease, illness, or injury, for which early detection by medical testing is possible and beneficial
- Testing prescribed by a qualified doctor
In 2010, a Salt Lake City jury awarded more than $5.2 million to a mesothelioma patient for injuries related to workplace asbestos exposure. The plaintiff, a woman who had been working on home renovation jobs with her father at the time of exposure, had received her diagnosis in 2007. The jury found the defendants, including Georgia Pacific, Hamilton Materials, and Union Carbide, had produced defective products containing asbestos.
These are just a couple of examples of successful pursuits of justice in asbestos exposure and mesothelioma cases. A Utah mesothelioma lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you seek compensation for your injuries if you have suffered as a result of asbestos exposure.
Contact a Utah Mesothelioma Lawyer Today
A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming and terrifying. While no amount of financial compensation can make up for the physical, psychological, and emotional toll of the disease on you and your family, pursuing monetary awards for your losses can help to pay for medical treatment. Once you have sought medical treatment for your injuries, consider connecting with Pintas & Mullins Law Firm. Call the office at (800) 794-0444 to speak with a helpful staff member to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to determine if you have a case.