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Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects roughly 3,000 individuals each year in the U.S. According to reports, the form of cancer was linked originally with asbestos building supplies that were used in the construction of factories, mills, and shipyards. However, the asbestos products were also used in constructing residential properties as well. With the growing number of mesothelioma cases by the 1970s, government agencies moved to lower the risks associated with asbestos.

Understanding the Law and Asbestos

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In the 1970s, the Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act were passed to manage how asbestos was used and to regulate the disposal of the materials. Unfortunately, even with the new laws in place, businesses continued to use asbestos in industrial spaces, and more workers developed the occupational disease and died. This lead to the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule in 1989.

OSHA Regulations and Workers Compensation

 According to OSHA regulations, all industrial spaces where asbestos was used must undergo renovations to remove the building materials and prevent common risks to workers. If the employer failed to comply, OSHA retains the right to take legal action against the employer, and workers can utilize their rights to worker’s compensation coverage and benefits according to federal laws. The laws require the employer to send workers to an ER or urgent care facility for testing if they suspect that the worker has developed the disease. Any evidence of mesothelioma is managed initially through the worker’s compensation claims for the occupational disease.

How Do Workers Develop Mesothelioma?

The asbestos building material is distributed throughout the workplace in the form of dust. Over time, the material wears down and dust falls from it. If renovations or repairs are conducted, workers could be exposed to the dust as they drill into the materials. However, the workers inhale the dust as it spreads through ventilation systems primarily. The prolonged exposure or inhalation of the dust leads to the development of mesothelioma.

Are There Different Types of Mesothelioma?

Yes, there are four different types of mesothelioma. The cancer affects the lungs, heart, abdomen, or testicles. Once the location of the disease is discovered, the doctor establishes if the patient has sarcomatoid, epithelioid, or biphasic forms of the disease. According to statistics, around 75% of mesothelioma cases involve epithelioid cancer cells. 10% of the cases are sarcomatoid, and 40% are biphasic. Pleural mesothelioma affects the lungs, and the form of the disease represents about 75% of the cases reported. Peritoneal or abdomen mesothelioma represents about 20% of the cases. Pericardial or heart-related mesothelioma is about 1% of the cases reported in the U.S.

How is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?

Doctors perform physical examinations to identify the location of tumors. CT scans are used to find tumors within the organ system. Biopsies are used to determine if the tumor is malignant or benign. The process could include aspiration with a fine needle, laparoscopy, thoracotomy, laparotomy, or thoracoscopy. Doctors may also perform an MRI or PET scan to diagnose the patient, too.

Is Mesothelioma a Death Sentence?

Patients who have mesothelioma tumors almost always have malignant tumors. It is rare for the doctors to find a benign tumor when diagnosing the disease. For a majority of patients who are diagnosed, the disease is a death sentence. In very rare cases, the disease responds to traditional cancer treatments, and the patient could survive. Doctors can provide chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical removal of tumors to treat the symptoms of the disease, and patients could prolong their life up to twenty-one months. However, at this time there isn’t a known cure for the disease.

What are Risk Factors for Mesothelioma?

Any workers who work within an environment were asbestos is present are at risk of developing mesothelioma. Their family members that come in direct contact with their clothing or their person are also at risk of exposure to the asbestos dust. It is recommended that the worker remove any work attire that is covered in the asbestos dust before entering their home to lower the risk to their family.

 

The Legal Rights of Workers and Their Family

Workers who aren’t compensated fully by worker’s compensation have the legal right to start an asbestos lawsuit. The legal action is an attempt to collect payments for all medical treatment associated with the treatment of mesothelioma and the collection of wages lost due to the development of the disease. Employers may offer a settlement for the worker due to their diagnosis and prognosis.

If any direct members of the worker’s family develop the disease, the employer is responsible for their medical treatment and may offer a settlement due to their liability. However, in most cases, the family must file a legal claim to try to collect compensation for linked cases of the disease.

If the worker dies as a result of mesothelioma, the family could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer or their insurer. The claim could lead to the acquisition of lifetime earnings for the worker. The family could also claim certain tort-based options due to the loss of financial support, loss of companionship for spouses, and mental anguish. An attorney explains which options are available to the family when the claim is started.

Class Action Lawsuits Against the Employer

If a workers was exposed to asbestos and developed mesothelioma, an attorney could file a lawsuit. Under the circumstances, the attorney works with the patients who are at the greatest risk at the time that the claim is filed. When a worker develops an occupational disease due to an employer’s failures, the litigant goes to court  to get justice and compensation This includes individuals who are terminal and  others with  serious prognosis.

Workers or their family members who have been diagnosed with any form of mesothelioma must act quickly to file a legal claim. The disease is terminal and while it is treatable in some stages, there isn’t a cure. Patients who developed the disease due to the failures of their employers have the right to seek damages. Workers or families who want to start a legal claim are encouraged to contact an attorney right now.

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mesothelioma/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20375028 
https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/mesothelioma/statistics 
https://www.asbestos.com/legislation/ban/ 
https://www.mesothelioma.com/treatment/