Our mesothelioma asbestos lawyers explain these claims and answer your questions on this page.
Mesothelioma is a very rare and dangerous type of cancer that is only known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a material that was commonly used in a variety of construction materials and in industrial settings from the 1930s to the late 1970s. It someone develops mesothelioma it means that at some point in their lifetime, they were exposed to asbestos (directly or indirectly). Anyone with mesothelioma may be able to bring a lawsuit against asbestos manufacturers and get compensation.
Thousands of asbestos lawsuits are still being filed and settled every year. Our national asbestos lawyers are actively seeking cases from anyone who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or the surviving family members of someone who died from mesothelioma. Contact our office today at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation.
Brief History of Asbestos
Asbestos is a natural mineral that is mined from the earth. The asbestos mineral is a highly fibrous and pliable material that has a number of highly unique characteristics that make it unlike any other mineral on earth. One of the key qualities of asbestos is that is completely resistant to heat. Even at some of the most extreme temperatures, asbestos fibers do no deteriorate or weaken.
Another key attribute of asbestos that sets it apart from other materials is that is highly resistant to any type of corrosion. Asbestos also does not conduct electricity.
This unique combination of attributes (and its ready availability in the earth) made asbestos extremely useful for a wide variety of industrial and construction applications. Asbestos use in American industry began in the late 1870s, but it really started to accelerate in the early 20th century. The zenith of asbestos use in the U.S. was the 1960s thru the 1970s when it was being used in thousands of different products and applications.
Where Was Asbestos Used?
Asbestos was used in a number of different construction materials. It was also widely used for heat resistant applications and friction parts.
Where asbestos was used the most, however, was as an insulation material, particularly in situations requiring heat resistance. The ability of asbestos to resist heat deterioration while not corroding or conducting electricity made it the ideal material for insulation in industry and building. Asbestos was also used to make a wide variety of products including breaks and auto parts, floor tiles, ceiling tiles, shingles, and other building materials. It was also used in electrical parts.
Products where asbestos was often used include:
- Insulating materials around hot water and steam pipes
- Attic and wall insulation
- Flooring and ceiling tiles
- Roofing and siding shingles
- Patching compounds used on walls and ceilings
- Asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets used around wood-burning stoves or furnaces
- Gaskets used on boilers and furnaces
- Heat-resistant fabrics
- Automobile clutches and brakes
Asbestos Exposure Risks
Asbestos is basically harmless as long as you are not breathing it in. When asbestos fiber particles become airborne (which can happen easily) they immediately become highly toxic and once inhaled they start doing damage inside the body. The same indestructible characteristics that made asbestos such as useful building and industrial material also made it very dangerous to those exposed to airborne particles.
When inhaled, asbestos fibers rapidly start to accumulate around the lungs (and other tissue inside the body) where they basically never go away and gradually cause internal damage and cancer. Asbestos is considered one of the most carcinogenic materials in the world and it has been completely banned in most developed countries.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is extremely rare and it is only known to be caused by exposure to asbestos particles. Mesothelioma cancer originates in the lining surrounding certain tissue and organs inside the body (most often the lungs). There are several different types of mesothelioma which are based on where in the body the cancer forms.
Pleural mesothelioma is when the cancer originates in the tissue around the lungs. This is by far the most common type of mesothelioma, accounting for over 80% of all cases. When the cancer originates in the tissue around the abdominal cavity it is classified as peritoneal mesothelioma. This is the second most common subtype of mesothelioma, accounting for just under 10% of cases.
Mesothelioma is a very rare type of cancer. Only 3,000 are diagnosed each year in the U.S. Sadly, mesothelioma is extremely aggressive. It is generally considered to be the deadliest of all types of cancer. The overall 5-year survival rate for mesothelioma is only 12%.
Mesothelioma is Only Caused By Asbestos Exposure
Mesothelioma is very unique in the world of cancer because we there is only 1 thing that causes it to occur and we know exactly what that is. Mesothelioma can only be caused by exposure to asbestos. This means that if someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma they must have been exposed to asbestos at some point during their lifetime (even if they don’t remember).
When the fibers of asbestos turn into airborne particles and get inhaled or ingested, they accumulate inside the body in the tissue surrounding the lungs (and other organs) and never get broken down or metabolized. Over time, these pockets of accumulated asbestos fibers become deeply embedded in the outer lining of the lungs or abdomen. Once embedded in the tissue, the asbestos fibers essentially scratch and irritate the tissue in this lining.
This causes chronic inflammation and eventually scarring. Over time, the continuous inflammation and scarring sites in the tissue from the asbestos fibers form into mesothelioma cancer tumors.
It takes a very long time for exposure to asbestos to develop into mesothelioma. This is known as the “latency period.” The latency period for asbestos to result in mesothelioma can take anywhere from 15 to 40 years. This long time lapse often obscures the memory of the asbestos exposure that caused the mesothelioma.
Who Was Exposed to Asbestos?
Around 30 million people in the U.S. workforce are believed to have been exposed to airborne asbestos particles between 1940 and 1979. New laws and safety regulations in the late 1970s all but eliminated the use of asbestos and curtailed exposure.
During the peak of asbestos use in the U.S., almost anyone who worked in a blue collar field could have potentially been exposed to asbestos. Those occupations or trades with the highest risk of asbestos exposure included:
- Steamfitters / Pipefitters
- Electrical Generation (Boilers)
- Heavy Industry
Indirect Exposure to Asbestos
In addition to those who were directly exposed to asbestos on the job, millions of people were indirectly exposed to airborne asbestos fibers as children. People who worked around asbestos would come home with asbestos fibers on their clothing. These fibers would become airborne and get inhaled by their children, spouses, or anyone living in the house with them.
If one of your parents or someone who lived in your house when you were a child worked around asbestos, you were likely subject to second-hand asbestos exposure. Many of the mesothelioma lawsuits brought today involve cases of second-hand exposure during childhood.
Asbestos Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Asbestos lawsuits have been around for decades. The first significant asbestos product liability cases began in the 1970s. By the 1980s, asbestos litigation had evolved into its own unique legal industry.
Any company that made or sold asbestos products (or made things that asbestos was used on, such as boilers) has liability for injuries caused by exposure to those asbestos products. Many of the largest asbestos companies have gone bankrupt from asbestos liabilities. However, there are still many current, viable companies that can be held responsible for asbestos related injuries, even for products that were sold decades ago. There is also an asbestos compensation trust fund available to compensate victims who have claims against companies that are no longer around.
Who Qualifies for a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
Anyone who is diagnosed with mesothelioma is automatically eligible to file an asbestos lawsuit. The surviving family members of someone who died from mesothelioma are also eligible to bring a wrongful death asbestos lawsuit. Asbestos exposure is the only thing that causes mesothelioma. This means that anyone with a mesothelioma diagnosis is presumptively eligible to bring an asbestos lawsuit.
If you have mesothelioma, it means you were exposed to asbestos at some point. The key in many mesothelioma cases is tracing the diagnosis back to exposure and identifying the specific products that caused the exposure.
Is It Too Late to File Your Asbestos Lawsuit?
Anyone with mesothelioma is presumptively eligible to file a lawsuit. The only question is whether the applicable statute of limitations has passed. If the statute of limitation (SOL) on the case has expired, the asbestos lawsuit will be legally barred.
The SOL varies depending on what state the case is in, but most SOLs deadlines are between 2-5 years from the “date of discovery.” The date of discovery in mesothelioma asbestos cases is almost always going to be the date of diagnosis. Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, therefore, a mesothelioma diagnosis acts as constructive notice of a potential asbestos lawsuit. This basically starts the clock ticking on the applicable SOL.
Settlement Value of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Mesothelioma is a deadly type of cancer and causation is easy to establish, so mesothelioma cases have a very high settlement value. The primary issued in most mesothelioma cases today is not whether asbestos products caused the cancer, but whether the plaintiff can prove that they were exposed to the defendant’s specific asbestos products.
Many of the earlier mesothelioma cases that went to trial generated massive multi-million dollar verdicts for the plaintiffs. Today, a large percentage of mesothelioma asbestos cases settle out of court with an average settlement payout between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000.
Mesothelioma Settlements & Verdicts
The cases summarized below are a sample of recent verdicts and reported settlements in mesothelioma asbestos cases. These cases demonstrate the very high-value mesothelioma asbestos cases have at trial, which is one of the primary reasons most mesothelioma cases settle.
- Illinois (2022) $7,217,656: wrongful death case brought by family of pipefitter who died at age 62 from mesothelioma. Case involved a large group of defendants, many of whom settled out of the cases, but U.S. Steel and Fisher Controls Intl. went to trial. Jury award of $7.2 million was reduced to $3.7 million based on plaintiffs’ comparative negligence.
- Oregon (2022) $30,000,000: decedent had one year of asbestos exposure in 1974, which lead to his death from mesothelioma in 2021. Jury awarded $30 million.
- Pennsylvania (2022) $2,218,415: decedent worked on jet engines for the Navy from 1971 to 1982, during which time he was regularly exposed to asbestos fibers. He developed mesothelioma and died in 2019. The jury awarded his spouse $2.2 million.
- Washington (2021) $10,000,000: 79-year-old retired school principal was exposed to asbestos as a child from his father’s work clothes and diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.
- Illinois (2021) $23,000,000: plaintiff worked around asbestos at an industrial laundry during the early 1970s. She later developed mesothelioma. Jury in Chicago awarded $23 million.
- California (2021) $710,000: former sheet metal was exposed to asbestos from friction machine parts manufactured by the defendant. He later died from mesothelioma. Verdict was reduced because defendant was only found 5% at fault.
- Ohio (2021) $10,657,189: former mechanic died of mesothelioma decades after being exposed to asbestos from brake pads manufactured by defendant. The estate settled with several other defendants before going to trial.
Contact Us About Your Mesothelioma Lawsuit
If you (or a family member) have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and want to get compensation, contact our national asbestos lawyers today for a free consultation at 800-553-8082.