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Mesothelioma is a very serious, rare cancer. It is estimated that approximately 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the United States. This cancer has been linked with long-term and heavy exposure to asbestos. It often has a long period of latency (20 to 40 years), meaning that people who were exposed to asbestos as long as 40 years ago may just be developing the disease today.
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that has been widely used in the manufacture of a variety of products, particularly because it is heat resistant and a fire retardant. It is estimated that 3,000 different types of commercial products contain asbestos; these include, but are not limited to, roofing tiles, brake linings, floor tiles, cement, dry wall, insulation, and asbestos cloth. Asbestos products may have been used, or are still used, in a number of industries. In addition, asbestos has been found to be a bio-hazard and is linked to the development of mesothelioma. Approximately 90 percent of mesothelioma cases have been attributed to asbestos exposure.
People who have worked in industries in which asbestos products have been prevalent, such as construction workers, ship yard workers, iron workers, electricians, metal lathers, machinists, miners, and may more, are at an increased risk of prolonged exposure to asbestos, and thus, developing mesothelioma.
The dangerous effects of exposure to asbestos have been known for decades; the first cases of asbestos related illnesses were documented as early as 1906. However, its use in industry continued, and still continues. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposed guidelines for safe handling procedures and use in the 1970s and issued a rule in 1989 banning most products containing asbestos. Some would argue that the fact asbestos was used even after the dangerous effects became evident shows a disregard on the part of industries for people\'s health and safety.
Because of the severity of mesothelioma, and the fact that it is caused by a product that has been known to have serious side effects for many years, many people have pursued legal compensation for the damages incurred as a result of their disease. In 1969, Clarence Borel filed a lawsuit against Johns-Manville and other manufacturers of asbestos products (Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Products Company, et al). Borel had worked as an insulation installer for more than 30 years and had developed mesothelioma. In his lawsuit, Borel claimed that the manufacturers of the insulation knew that it was hazardous to people\'s health, but regardlessly, used it. The jury in the case found in favor of the plaintiff, who had unfortunately passed away by the time the decision was made. His widow was awarded approximately $80,000.
Since Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Products Company, et al was brought to court, thousands of mesothelioma cases have been presented. These cases have been single person lawsuits, as well as class action lawsuits, with settlements ranging from tens of thousands to millions of dollars.
Typically, when a mesothelioma lawsuit is made, it is under tort law. Torts, which are civil wrongs that are recognized as grounds for lawsuits, result in injury or harm. The resulting injury or harm establishes a basis for making a legal claim. Generally, when tort cases are made, compensation for damages incurred is sought, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Types of tort cases that may apply to mesothelioma litigation include: product liability, premises liability, economic property loss, and workers\' compensation.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and it has been linked to asbestos exposure, it is highly recommended that you speak with an attorney whose focus is mesothelioma and asbestos cases. He or she will be knowledgeable about the disease, as well as about the possible legal avenues you may take. In addition, your lawyer will know what is necessary to make a viable claim. A lawyer will help you seek compensation for your medical expenses, plus pain and suffering you have endured as a result of your mesothelioma.
Legal•Info State Mesothelioma Information
Legal•Info State Resources
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