Symptoms of asbestos exposure do not show for a long time. In some instances, it can take as long as fifty years after the initial exposure for symptoms to develop. Someone who may have worked as an insulation installer in the 1960s may now be dealing with mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung, or other cancer diagnoses that are related to inhaling toxic asbestos fibers. Several industries, including shipping, auto, and textiles, were aware of the risks asbestos could cause but failed to warn or protect their employees from these dangers because employers ultimately chose profits over people. If you’d like to speak with one of our experienced Asbestos attorneys in Washington, D.C. contact our office today to schedule a free consultation and initial case evaluation.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a general term for six naturally occurring fiber bundles first used for insulation because of their ability to resist heat and pressure. However, when the fibers become airborne and are inhaled, the fibers put those exposed at risk of developing:
- Mesothelioma a rare form of cancer that can affect the lining of the lungs, abdomen and heart
- Asbestosis a nonmalignant progressive disease
- Lung cancer a cancer beginning in the lungs that can be fatal
The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Many companies and manufacturers knew of the dangers for decades but chose not to make their employees or the public aware. Each year, thousands of individuals in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma because these employers acted without regard for the safety of their workers or consumers.
What are the Laws for Asbestos Exposure?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration now seek better regulations to prevent exposure, but these regulations cannot fix the past. Companies were silent about the health issues of asbestos exposure for decades. It finally took a governmental investigation in the 1970s to bring this information to light. Sadly, for many workers and their families, it was too late.
Who should I file a disease claim against?
The following entities are likely defendants if their actions (or inaction) caused your exposure and thereby caused your illness:
Companies that use asbestos
Companies that remove asbestos
Companies that dispose of asbestos
Companies that manufacture products that contain asbestos
Believe it or not, you may still have a valid claim for compensation, even if the company that exposed you has filed for bankruptcy or no longer exists.
Did I Work With Asbestos in D.C.?
While many commercials claim there are funds available to victims of asbestos exposure, more often than not these commercials are referencing bankruptcy trusts that take administrative lawsuit claims. These mesothelioma claims will only pay pennies on the dollar for the hardships families are going through. For many, filing a lawsuit with the assistance of an experienced asbestos injury attorney can gain significant amounts of compensation to cover the medical expenses as well as provide for victims, their spouses and families.
For the past 30 years, our mesothelioma law firm has assisted victims of asbestos exposure who developed asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma recover financial damages from the companies that put their health and safety in danger. Our law firm in Virginia, Maryland, or D.C. continue to fight for victims and their loved ones wrongfully exposed on the job to dangerous fibers.
D.C. Jobs with Asbestos Exposure
A number of occupations are linked to high rates of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, such as:
Shipbuilders have a high risk of developing cancer due to exposure. This risk is higher for those who worked in shipyards between World War II and the Korean War. During this time, asbestos was used as insulation in ships’ steam pipes, boilers, incinerators, and hot water pipes. Due to poor ventilation, dust would build up, exposing shipbuilders to large quantities of asbestos.
The generators and turbines found in plants and factories used to contain asbestos, particularly in the gaskets, pipes, and insulation. As a result, many plant workers who worked in oil refineries, chemical plants, and power plants have been exposed.
If you worked in the construction industry, you may have been exposed to fibers that were in the building materials you used. Before 1980, asbestos was often used as insulation in buildings. Additionally, many other commercial and home building products contained asbestos, including:
- Fireproofing products
- Spackling and taping compounds
- Tiles, siding and roofing materials
- Certain textiles, such as blankets, protective coverings and strong cords
- Cement pipe and sheet material
- Elevator equipment
Other workers who may have been exposed to asbestos include firefighters, railroad workers, automobile mechanics, miners, machinists, plumbers, and electricians.
My husband died from an asbestos-related disease. Do I have a claim?
It is very likely that you do, although we can offer no guarantees without closely examining your claim. Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia all have wrongful death statutes that are designed to compensate close family members of those who have died because of the wrongful behavior of someone else. Even the worker’s compensation system offers death benefits to survivors.
Damages for a wrongful death claim can be substantial because it may include compensation for:
Loss of guidance and companionship;
Grief and sorrow;
Lost earnings due to the victim’s untimely death;
Outstanding medical bills; and
Funeral and burial expenses.
Contact our proven Virginia asbestos lawyer to discuss your case and answer your questions.
How soon after I am exposed should I file a lawsuit?
A simple exposure, leading to a heightened risk of eventually developing an asbestos-related disease, is not enough to support a personal injury lawsuit or a workers’ compensation claim. Instead, you should wait until you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease before contacting a lawyer.
You don’t have to prove what your disease was caused by before you contact a lawyer – lung cancer, for example, can be caused by second-hand smoke. A lawyer can help you establish a link between your current illness and your previous exposure. The more serious your diagnosis, the higher your damages are likely to be.
Compensation for Family Members in Virginia, D.C., and Maryland
Our DC mesothelioma lawyers caution that a growing number of family members who never were exposed to asbestos firsthand are now receiving diagnoses of mesothelioma, cancer and other illnesses related to exposure. Many workers collected dust on their shoes, clothing or hair and brought it home, unknowingly exposing family members. This secondhand exposure is as real and as serious as workers who handled the actual asbestos products.
Does My House Have Asbestos?
Asbestos is no longer used in manufacturing or building, but older buildings may still contain it around pipes, in ceiling tiles or the walls. Any building containing it that is in a deteriorating state or disturbed without taking the proper safety precautions may release dust into the air, exposing those who enter the building to its dangerous fibers.
In addition to its use in construction materials, some consumer products manufactured before 1980 may also contain asbestos. Such products include:
- Home appliances
- Wood-burning stoves
- Handheld hair dryers
If you bought any products before 1980, it may be in your best interest to replace them to ensure that you and your family are not exposed.
What to Do If You Think You Have Been Exposed
If you or your children live, work or go to school in an older building, or if you or a loved one worked in any of the above-mentioned industries, you may have been exposed to asbestos. If this is the case, visit your doctor immediately. Tell your doctor that you think you have been exposed and explain any symptoms you are experiencing.
Early detection of exposure is often the key to gaining life-prolonging treatment for mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related illnesses. If you have been exposed to asbestos and are in need of a qualified mesothelioma attorney in Virginia, DC or Maryland, speak with asbestos lawyers at Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP today.