Can Brief Exposure to Asbestos Cause Mesothelioma?

By Peter DePaolis

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer caused exclusively by asbestos exposure, which affects the lining of the lungs or stomach of those who have worked in or around materials containing asbestos. There is much misinformation out there regarding asbestos exposure and what affected individuals can do if they have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Our firm has handled over 1,200 claims related to mesothelioma, along with other asbestos-related diseases like asbestosis and lung cancer, and we’d like to set the record straight.

How Long Must Workers Be Around Asbestos to Cause Harm?

One particularly frightening trait of the disease is that it can strike after only a short contact with asbestos—as little as 2 or 3 months or less. Actor Steve McQueen, star of classics such as “Bullitt” and “The Magnificent Seven,” died from mesothelioma at age 50. His only exposure to asbestos was a single summer spent sweeping floors in the Los Angeles shipyards as a teenager.

Worse still, mesothelioma can affect family members of exposed workers, who can carry asbestos fibers home on their clothes and skin. There have even been cases of wives who inhaled asbestos dust while doing their husbands’ laundry.

How Long Does it Take for Mesothelioma to Develop?

Another trait of mesothelioma is that it can lie undetected for decades, only to be discovered long after the victim has ever had any exposure to asbestos.

This delayed development of the disease makes connecting an individual to the responsible employer challenging, but it can be done. To prove a company knowingly exposed innocent workers to this deadly substance without regard for their health, we examine things like:

  • What job site or sites you worked on
  • What dates you worked on such sites
  • What products were used on those work sites
  • With whom you worked

We have successfully connected clients to companies and job sites to prove exposure to asbestos and knowledge by employers that the material was extremely dangerous. Through coworker testimony, we’ve collected hundreds of deposition transcripts, going all the way back to 1980, so we can find the companies who made, supplied or applied the material that caused this illness decades prior to the diagnosis.

What Can Individuals and Families Do After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis?

Mesothelioma is invariably a fatal disease; once diagnosed, a patient’s life expectancy is only 2 to 5 years. With this in mind, mesothelioma patients face an admittedly difficult decision. They understand that they do not have long to live, and putting themselves through a lawsuit and what can be stressful depositions is never easy. But they also know that this is the best possible way to take care of family after they’re gone—plus mesothelioma and asbestosis claims survive death. And there’s one further benefit.

Asbestos manufacturers have known from the product’s introduction that it was harmful, and decided to keep quiet rather than admitting any wrongdoing. We believe very strongly that companies that make dangerous products should be held accountable. The legacy of these lawsuits ensures corporate responsibility in the future. We aim to let these companies know that you cannot ignore the health and safety of your workers and get away with it.

Asbestos-related claims are incredibly complex, and can vary greatly, depending on where they are filed. This is why it is of utmost importance that you and your family speak with an experienced mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible. Our team can recover damages including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering of the patient, and sometimes grief and bereavement of the family. If your family has suffered through an asbestos-related illness, please call Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P., right away for a free, no obligation consultation.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.