Question

How did I get asbestos cancer and what can I do about it in the New York legal system?

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Daniel J. Wasserberg - Personal Injury - General - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Daniel J. Wasserberg

Meirowitz & Wasserberg, LLP
New York, NY
Phone: 212-897-1988
Fax: 646-432-6887

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Answer

Ingesting or inhaling asbestos fibers can result in devastating conditions in and around the lungs and throughout the body. Unfortunately, there is no safe level of exposure for asbestos and workers who have had occupational contact with the fibrous material may develop mesothelioma or lung cancer many years or even decades after the exposure occurred. Receiving a cancer diagnosis can lead to a devastating mixture of emotions including anger, frustration, and hopelessness. While the prognosis is often (but not always) terminal, you may be able to recover monetary compensation by holding the negligent party accountable for their actions.

There are several different cancers associated with asbestos exposure. Our law firm handles these types of cases in New York and all over the country, including those centering on numerous diseases, including:

  • Malignant Mesothelioma
  • Lung Cancer
  • Stomach Cancer
  • Colon Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Laryngeal Cancer
  • Nonmalignant Asbestos Disease commonly known as Asbestosis

As a naturally occurring mineral, the useful properties of asbestos were astonishing. For decades, asbestos was used in numerous products. It was an exceptional fire retardant, it was used as a binding ingredient in building products, and was utilized in many other kinds of products such as plastics, tiles, felts, and adhesives. From the insulation on steam pipes to vehicle brakes, asbestos was an important ingredient. It wasn’t until the early 1970s that the federal government was forced to intervene to try to stop the devastating health impact directly related to the use of asbestos. OSHA was created because the companies manufacturing and utilizing these asbestos-containing products had known for decades that asbestos was not only hazardous, but also potentially lethal, however, for the most part industry as a whole refused to stop using the mineral because of its practical ease and comparatively inexpensive cost.

What are common symptoms of lung cancer?

While mesothelioma and other forms of lung cancer might present different symptoms for different people, there are certain things that individuals must be aware of, including:

  • Dry, unproductive cough
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Pneumonia-like symptoms
  • Chest pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness

Additionally, a common symptom of mesothelioma is the development of fluid around the lungs. This is known as “pleural effusion,” and can cause many of the above-mentioned symptoms as well as orthopnea — the inability to breathe easily unless in an upright position. A repeat diagnosis of pneumonia may be a sign that a person is developing a pleural effusion or a potential malignancy.

Are certain industries more susceptible to asbestos exposure?

While nearly everyone — from consumer product users to workers in heavy industries — can suffer the effects of asbestos exposure, there are certain occupations and industries that pose more risk for workers, including:

  • Oil Refineries & Chemical Plants
  • Power Plants & Power Houses
  • Paper Mills & Steel Mills
  • Automotive Manufacturing
  • Ships & Shipyards
  • Military, particularly Navy
  • Plastics Manufacturing Facilities
  • Machinist’s Mates
  • Boiler Tenders
  • Plumbers
  • Boilermakers
  • Electricians
  • Pipefitters
  • Insulators
  • Carpenters
  • Auto Mechanics
  • Merchant Marines
  • Longshoremen
  • Railroad Workers
  • Maintenance Mechanics
  • Welders
  • HVAC Technicians
  • Sheetrock and Drywall Tapers
  • Painters
  • Superintendents (“Supers”)
  • Construction Workers
  • Aircraft Mechanics
  • Linotype Workers

It is important to remember that some people who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related cancer were not necessarily exposed to asbestos occupationally, or at work. Some people were exposed within the family home, from home renovations or from handling the laundry of a loved one who worked with asbestos. Additionally, some people have developed mesothelioma as a result of using cosmetic talcum powder that was contaminated with asbestos.

Many people, both men and women, use talcum powder between the legs and on the upper thighs for a variety of reasons. From the absorption of moisture to the prevention of chafing, the powder can be refreshing. Unfortunately, recent studies have uncovered a link between the use of talcum powder and the onset of ovarian cancer. It is believed that tens of thousands of women have developed ovarian cancer as a result of applying talcum powder below the waist. While it is challenging to prove a conclusive link, successful jury awards have given hope to hundreds of women with this tragic cancer diagnoses.

What can be done?

After being diagnosed with mesothelioma or another type of asbestos-related cancer, individuals might immediately want to hold their employer accountable and seek a lawsuit. However, most claims take on a different form. Typically, monetary compensation can be sought in one of two ways.

  • Trust claims: If the company has gone bankrupt, an experienced mesothelioma attorney can file trust claims to recover compensation from a trust specifically designed for this purpose. It is imperative that a lawyer with significant experience handling asbestos bankruptcy trust claims be utilized for this purpose.
  • Litigation: If the company is still active and has not filed for bankruptcy, or is inactive but has insurance coverage, courtroom litigation can often be pursued. Asbestos litigation requires substantial research and resources and it is critical that an experienced mesothelioma attorney handle this type of case.

If you or a loved one was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer or asbestosis, it is imperative that you contact an experienced mesothelioma lawyer for guidance.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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