While many industries widely used asbestos at one point, certain occupations created the highest risk of exposure to asbestos in the workforce. Asbestos exposure can lead to devastating consequences, including mesothelioma, cancer, and other serious conditions.
As a result, many have questioned what happens if they had asbestos exposure at work. That is why in the below post, we will go over these scenarios, the legal remedies you may be able to pursue following this exposure, and how an experienced asbestos attorney can help you fight for the justice and damages you deserve.
General Information on Asbestos
Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring minerals. These minerals consist of flexible fibers resistant to corrosion, electricity, and heat, making the mineral very useful in many products. For instance, construction materials contain asbestos because it is an excellent insulator. Yet, it is also found in plastic, cloth, paper, and other materials because it strengthens them.
Unfortunately, asbestos exposure is also highly toxic and can result in significant health risks, including mesothelioma, certain cancers, and asbestosis. Ingesting or inhaling asbestos can cause the fibers to get trapped in a person’s body, leading to inflammation, scarring, and other deadly diseases.
Occupations With the Most Asbestos Exposure
Over the years, countless occupations have put workers at risk because of their asbestos exposure. These occupations often involved workers using materials containing asbestos, working in buildings that contained asbestos, or manufacturing products with asbestos.
As a result, some of the most common asbestos occupations have included:
- Construction workers
- Industrial workers
- Auto mechanics
- Power plant workers
- Shipyard workers
- U.S. Navy veterans
- Demolition crews
- HVAC workers
- Machine operators
- Factory workers
- Metal workers
- Railroad workers
- Oil refinery workers
However, these jobs are only a small sample of the occupations often exposed to asbestos. Worse yet, it is not only those individuals who work directly with asbestos-containing products that are at risk of developing serious health issues. Some individuals may also be at risk because of secondhand asbestos exposure, which happens when people come in contact with asbestos fibers from someone else, such as a family member who was exposed at work and carried asbestos fibers on their clothes.
For these reasons, if you believe you were exposed to asbestos at work and developed mesothelioma or another cancer, reach out to an experienced asbestos lawyer as soon as possible. These attorneys can review your situation in detail, go over your rights with you, and help you figure out what actions you should take to fight for the compensation you are entitled to.
Diseases Related to Asbestos Exposure
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have all classified asbestos as a known human carcinogen or a substance that causes cancer.
However, asbestos exposure can also lead to several other health issues as well, including:
- Other cancers, such as lung, ovarian, laryngeal, and gastrointestinal cancer
- Non-cancerous diseases, such as pleural effusion
However, while all forms of asbestos are hazardous, different types of asbestos fibers are associated with different health risks. Additionally, while low levels of asbestos are present in the water, air, and soil, most people will not become sick because of this exposure.
Rather, the individuals who most often get ill from asbestos exposure are those who are or have been exposed to these substances regularly, such as those who work directly with the material or through substantial environmental contact.
An Employer’s Duty Regarding Asbestos Exposure
Employers are required to inform their employees and workers if they are using or working with asbestos or are in an environment at risk of asbestos exposure. If you are worried about asbestos exposure at work, you should discuss the situation with your employer and the precautions taken to prevent worker asbestos exposure.
According to U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), employers should protect their workers from asbestos exposure by:
- Monitoring the exposure levels of their employees
- Providing them with proper training for working with or around asbestos
- Providing them with appropriate gear and clothing, such as goggles, gloves, and even respirators
- Providing them with ventilated workspaces
- Providing them with warning signs on materials that contain asbestos
If employers fail to follow these safety protocols, and their employees are exposed to asbestos as a result and develop serious illnesses, these workers may be able to pursue legal action. However, determining what this legal action entails can be challenging and often requires a solid understanding of the state’s laws.
Thankfully, when you work with an experienced asbestos lawyer, you will not have to figure out these issues on your own. Instead, these legal professionals can determine the options you have and then assist you as you go after the maximum compensation you deserve.
Obtaining Compensation Following Asbestos Exposure at Work
Generally, as an employee, if you suffered health issues caused by asbestos exposure in the workplace, you may pursue legal action against:
- The company that manufactured the asbestos or the protective equipment that failed to work in protecting you against this exposure
- Owners of the work area, and
- Contractors or subcontractors involved in the work performed
However, bringing a workers’ compensation claim is not easy and often requires a thorough understanding of workers’ compensation laws. For these reasons, if you believe you have a viable workers’ compensation claim because of your asbestos exposure at work, reach out to an experienced asbestos attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can investigate your claim, explain the legal process involved with these cases, and help you go after the compensation you are entitled to.
What Is an Asbestos Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Workers’ compensation is insurance that provides workers who were injured or became ill due to their job with cash benefits and medical care. This insurance can also help workers cover bills related to seeking specialized treatments for their illness, such as travel, hotel stay, and other accompanying expenses.
Finally, workers’ compensation can help individuals recover lost income by providing these individuals with disability payments, also referred to as replacement income. This income can be temporary or permanent, depending on the circumstances.
Employees must file a workers’ compensation claim through an employer to pursue these benefits. Employees cannot file these claims through asbestos manufacturers, contractors, or suppliers, although they can file a mesothelioma lawsuit against these organizations. Furthermore, employees cannot file a workers’ compensation claim with an Asbestos Trust.
Qualifying for an Asbestos Workers’ Compensation Claim
Pursuing workers’ compensation for an asbestos-related injury may be an option for those people who have been diagnosed with a disease directly related to their asbestos exposure while working.
However, to proceed with these claims, proof of asbestos-related diagnosis and occupational exposure is required, which may require the employee to gather details and documents regarding the type of asbestos they were exposed to when the exposure happened, and the length of exposure to the carcinogen.
After filing the claim, the state board will review the criteria and determine eligibility. If the board finds the employee eligible, board members will decide on the compensation they should pay the worker. This compensation will usually depend on the place of filing, as each jurisdiction has its own workers’ compensation laws.
Filing Deadlines and Workers’ Compensation Claims
Another issue employees have to pay attention to when pursuing a workers’ compensation claim is the time they have to file their case. These periods are known as the statute of limitations, and every state has its deadline regarding these claims. Most workers’ compensation claims typically have deadlines from one to three years after injury.
However, because asbestos-related illnesses can take a long time to develop, some individuals may be diagnosed with the disease after their workers’ compensation deadline has passed. If you believe you have a workers’ compensation claim due to your asbestos exposure, it may be a good idea to discuss your case with an experienced asbestos attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can help you figure out whether you still have time to file a workers’ compensation claim and, if not, determine the other legal options you still have.
Other Legal Options You Can Pursue if You Were Exposed to Asbestos
Depending on the circumstances, if you had asbestos exposure, you may have several other legal options you can pursue other than filing a workers’ compensation claim.
- An asbestos trust fund claim: These trusts were created when asbestos manufacturers filed for bankruptcy to eliminate or reduce their liability. In response, trust funds were created to compensate victims exposed to asbestos and who developed life-changing illnesses because of their exposure.
- An asbestos lawsuit: In certain circumstances, individuals may also be able to bring a lawsuit against the wrongful party or parties responsible for their asbestos exposure and resulting illness. However, while you can often win a larger compensation by pursuing a lawsuit, bringing a lawsuit can be challenging.
- Benefits from the VA: If you were a military veteran and had contact with asbestos during your service, you may be able to receive benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Each legal avenue involves different processes, different financial compensation outcomes, and unique challenges. For these reasons, go over your case with an experienced asbestos lawyer before deciding which one to pursue. Your attorney can go over each option, decide which one may work better based on your case, and help you fight for the money you need.
If You Were Exposed to Asbestos at Work, Contact an Experienced Asbestos Attorney Today for a Free Case Evaluation
Discovering that you or a loved one developed a life-threatening disease due to asbestos exposure from work can be devastating. Not only can this diagnosis leave you struggling physically and emotionally, but it can also impact your whole family financially.
However, if you are going through this challenging situation, you do not have to handle it alone. When an experienced asbestos lawyer fights for your rights, you can leave this legal battle to the professionals while focusing on more important things, like spending time with loved ones and getting the necessary treatments.
Once you retain an attorney, they can:
- Determine what legal avenues you can pursue, provide you with the legal support you need, and answer all your questions and concerns.
- Thoroughly investigate your case and determine whether you had asbestos exposure and whether you had this exposure at work.
- Gather documents and other evidence to support your legal claim and develop strategies in case of a dispute of your claim.
- Establish the severity of your illness and the extent of your losses by obtaining relevant evidence such as medical records, bills, test results, and pay stubs.
- Hire experts to validate your case.
- Pursue a workers’ compensation or another legal claim to help you secure the compensation you need.
- Head to trial and go after maximum financial recovery if the other party will not settle for a fair amount or you deny the claim.
If your work exposed you to asbestos, do not wait to fight for the justice you deserve. Instead, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia today for a free case evaluation and find out how a legal professional can help you.