A large Federal building in Oak Ridge was recently closed indefinitely due to the discovery of materials containing asbestos fibers. The asbestos fibers were discovered in the building’s heating and air system during a semiannual asbestos inspection. This preventative measure was taken to both protect the Federal employees’ health and shield the Federal Government from any ensuing liability. But unfortunately for the employees and the Federal Government, this preventative measure may have been taken far too late to be effective. Our asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys have extensive experience working with clients to obtain the maximum possible compensation for them and their families.
Asbestos fibers have been present in society since long before people understood the devastating health effects it can have on individuals exposed to it. American companies first began to knowingly use asbestos in products in the 1940s because of its extreme durability and resistance to immense heat and pressure. When massive amounts of people, especially factory workers, began to die in the 1950s, researchers discovered the noxious effects of asbestos. At this point, millions of Americans had been exposed to asbestos fibers and these fibers were present in buildings and products throughout the entire nation.
According to several studies, an estimated one hundred thousand individuals have died from diseases caused by asbestos exposure in the United States alone. It is important to realize that this number is most likely far below the actual death count because for many years, society had no idea asbestos posed a health risk.
Prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers can manifest into many lethal diseases. The most prevalent of these disease are asbestosis, pleural plaques, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Among the many difficulties with diagnosing these diseases and linking them to asbestos exposure is the extreme latency of symptoms. An asbestos related disease can remain dormant for many years before providing any warning of its damaging presence.
Understanding the severity of asbestos exposure, the Federal building in Oak Ridge was shut down; employees were prevented fro entering the building following the discovery of asbestos fibers in the ventilation system. Most of these people were employees at the United States Department of Energy. Officials insist the closing of the building was merely a precautionary measure, but that is assertion is likely an attempt to minimize the magnitude of the issue.
American courts and juries have been very sympathetic towards victims of asbestos related diseases. This sympathy likely derives from the fact that most victims work in factories making very little money. As a result, the damage awardsfor asbestos victims total in the billions. Damages have been so large as to put entire insurance companies out of business. So the Federal Government is going to take any opportunity to limit their liability.
Even if the recent evacuation is important to prevent any employee that has not yet developed an asbestos related disease, it is likely too late for many of them. Researchers have not yet found that a longer duration of exposure increases the danger level of a disease. It is ironic that this would be discovered only a couple months before the building was scheduled for renovations.
Thus, it appears that any of these employees who contract an asbestos related disease will be able to collect against the government. And with the average award for asbestos caused deaths totaling in the millions, 305 cases of that sort could be very costly. But only time will tell what sort of liability the government will be exposed to.
If you or a family member has or is suffering from an asbestos related disease, you must contact an asbestos or mesothelioma attorney today. And if you have been offered a settlement, even if it appears large, you should consult an attorney to ensure that you are not being taken advantage of.