Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer that can only be caused by exposure to asbestos, a material that was widely used in various industries prior to 1980. If a person has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it necessarily means that they were directly or indirectly exposed to asbestos at some time during their life.
Anyone who develops mesothelioma can bring an asbestos lawsuit and seek financial compensation. Thousands of asbestos lawsuits are brought each year in courts across the country. Our national asbestos lawyers are actively seeking asbestos cases from individuals (or their surviving family members) who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Call us today at 800-553-8082.
History of Asbestos
Asbestos is a naturally forming mineral that occurs in certain geologic areas around the world. The minerals referred to collectively as asbestos are composed of many small fibers that are pliable, yet durable.
Asbestos has a handful of unique characteristics that made it very useful for a variety of different purposes. One of the defining features of asbestos is that it is highly resistant to heat. The fibers of asbestos do not conduct heat and do not deteriorate or weaken even at very high temperatures. Asbestos also does not conduct electricity and is resistant to corrosion.
These unique properties, combined with the fact that it was easily mined from the earth, made asbestos extraordinarily useful for a wide range of purposes in American industry. The commercial use of asbestos in the U.S. dates back to the late 19th century, but its use increased dramatically during the WWII-era industrial boom. The peak period of asbestos use was in the 1960s when it could be found in thousands of different products and in virtually every factory or industrial setting in the U.S.
Where Did Asbestos Exposure Occur?
Prior to 1975, asbestos could be found all over the place. It was used as the primary component in countless products, including many different construction materials (e.g., roof tiles, floor tiles, shingles, etc.). Asbestos was also commonly used in high temperature applications (such as insulation for boilers and steam pipes) and in friction parts (such as brake pads).
The application where asbestos was most commonly used was as an insulation material. Asbestos insulation was almost always used in situations involving heat because of its ability to resist deterioration from heat exposure and not conduct electricity. Products where asbestos was often used also included:
- 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
- Insulating materials around hot water and steam pipes
- Attic and wall insulation
- Flooring and ceiling tiles
Asbestos Exposure Risk
When asbestos fiber is broken apart tiny asbestos dust particles become airborne (which can happen easily). These particles are highly toxic and once inhaled they start doing damage inside the body. The same indestructible characteristics that made asbestos so useful in various industrial application also made it harmful to the human body.
When inhaled, asbestos fibers rapidly start to accumulate in the tissue surrounding the lungs and other areas inside the body. Once there the accumulated fibers 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 very rare and special type of cancer. What makes mesothelioma so unique is that it is only caused by exposure to asbestos particles. Mesothelioma cancer tumors originate in the lining surrounding certain tissue and organs inside the body (most often the lungs). There are several different types of mesothelioma depending on where in the body the cancer forms.
When the cancer originates around the lungs it is called pleural mesothelioma. Pleural is by far the most common type of mesothelioma, accounting for over 80% of all cases. Peritoneal mesothelioma is where the cancer originates in the tissue around the abdominal cavity. 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%.
If You Have Mesothelioma it WAS Caused By Asbestos
Mesothelioma is unique in the world of cancer because is essentially a “man-made” cancer. Only 1 thing causes mesothelioma and that is exposure to asbestos. This means that if you were diagnosed with mesothelioma then you must have been exposed to asbestos at some point in your life, even if you don’t remember.
Inhaled asbestos particles 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 leads to chronic inflammation and eventually scarring and the scarring sites in the tissue from the asbestos fibers are what 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.
Asbestos Mesothelioma Lawsuits
The earliest asbestos product liability lawsuits began getting filed in the 1970s. By the 1980s, asbestos litigation had become a whole legal industry.
Any company that made or sold asbestos products (and even companies that made equipment that asbestos was used on, such as boilers) can be held liable for injuries caused by exposure to those asbestos products. Many of the biggest asbestos companies have gone bankrupt from asbestos liabilities. However, there are still many current, viable companies that can be held accountable for asbestos-related injuries, even for products that were sold decades ago. There is also an asbestos compensation trust fund available to compensate victims if the defendants are bankruptcy or no longer around.
Who Can File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
Anyone with mesothelioma has a viable asbestos lawsuit. Moreover, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought by the surviving family members of someone who died from mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure is the only thing that causes mesothelioma, which means that a mesothelioma diagnosis creates presumptive grounds for 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.
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.