Companies with asbestos-related liabilities set up asbestos trust funds to provide compensation for future victims of asbestos exposure-related diseases, even after bankruptcy. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) determined that in 2011, at least 100 companies declared bankruptcy due to asbestos-related lawsuits. The GAO states that 60 trusts with a total of $37 billion in assets have been set up since 1988.
Many products contain asbestos, a microscopically small natural fiber known to cause cancer. Products containing asbestos include wall and attic insulation, soundproofing, vinyl floor tiles, roofing materials, and car brake pads, to name just a few. Asbestos exposure can lead to illnesses such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and laryngeal cancer.
Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned the use of asbestos in some applications in the late 1970s, it was still widely used until the 1980s when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) partially banned the manufacture, import, and distribution of some asbestos-containing products.
If you believe asbestos exposure at work caused your or a loved one’s lung cancer, mesothelioma, or any other asbestos-related illness, you might be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other awards. You may also be able to collect further punitive awards.
Occupations Affected by Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos was a staple in the manufacturing of many household products, as well as in building materials like drywall and roof shingles.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR), 27 million workers were exposed to asbestos fibers in their workplaces between 1940 and 1979.
It was not just workers’ lives that were put at risk by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is microscopic and can stay on a worker’s clothing, hair, and skin. Any family members coming into contact with the worker or their clothing could have inhaled damaging asbestos fibers as well.
ATSDR said some of the highest risk occupations and industries include:
- Workers in the auto industry
- Construction workers
- Shipyard workers
- Refinery workers
- U.S. Navy personnel
- Merchant marine workers
- Mining and oil refinery workers
- Asbestos product manufacturing
- Steel manufacturers
Workers in many other industries and professions may also have inhaled asbestos fibers. If you believe that you were exposed, and are now suffering from an asbestos-related illness, you may receive compensation from a company or an asbestos trust fund. Speaking to an asbestos lawyer can help you understand the various laws and issues surrounding exposure and illness from asbestos in the workplace.
Asbestos is not only a danger of the past. Workers today still face the risks of developing asbestos-related illnesses in the future. Since asbestos use was so widespread in many different materials and older buildings, workers nowadays are mostly exposed when demolishing and removing older building elements, or during a renovation.
The risk from asbestos is now widely recognized, and exposure risk is cut down to the minimum by following the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. However, if the asbestos hazard is not promptly recognized, workers in the construction industry today face the danger of this carcinogenic material.
Asbestos-Related Diseases Latency
Whether someone contracts an asbestos-related disease depends on various factors, for example, the length and intensity of exposure to the fibers in the workplace. However, asbestos-related conditions typically take a long time to show up in an exposed person’s body.
An American Cancer Society study revealed that the period of latency, in other words, the amount of time that passes between exposure to the fibers and when symptoms develop, can be two to four decades or more. Lung cancer seems to present itself at about 30-35 years after exposure, while asbestosis and mesothelioma can take up to 45 years to manifest in a person.
If you inhaled asbestos fibers at work, they would remain in your body for the rest of your life, and there is no “maximum latency period.” This means that the risk of developing a disease from asbestos exposure is always present.
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Steps You Can Take
Finding out that you or any family members have a serious illness that may be incurable, such as mesothelioma, can come as a terrible shock. You may be dealing with the stress of costly and unpleasant treatments, as well as not feeling your best.
Since there are asbestos trust funds that were set up for workers suffering from asbestos-related diseases, you can hold those responsible to account. You could receive compensation that can help to make your life more comfortable. Asbestos litigation laws are complex, and a lawsuit may require the testimony of expert witnesses. An asbestos litigation law firm can help with those practicalities.
We may be able to help you with asbestos litigation, whether you are thinking about filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Contact our team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today for a complimentary consultation at (800) 217-6099.
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