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A History of Asbestos

Asbestos, a mineral that occurs naturally in large deposits on every continent in the world, has been used by humans since before written history when people occasionally used it for wicks in lamps and candles. Humans didn’t start using asbestos regularly until the Industrial age, when it’s fire-retardant properties became an indispensable tool for the automobile, construction and military industries.

However, despite all of those crucial uses, asbestos eventually became known as a danger to human health. In the last few decades, the mineral has generally been regarded as a known carcinogen that can cause horrific damage and diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

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What is Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the mesothelial tissue, which is a thin tissue that lines the lungs, stomach, heart and other organs. It is most commonly associated with exposure to asbestos. While mesothelioma is considered incurable, symptoms can be relieved by treatments such as surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.

Common Side Effects and Injuries from Asbestos

Unfortunately, asbestos can found almost anywhere, leading people to be exposed to it at the workplace, in nature, in their communities and in their homes. When objects containing asbestos are disturbed, microscopic asbestos fibers are released into the air, breathed in, and become trapped in the lungs.

When asbestos remains in the lungs for a long time, the fibers can accumulate, causing scarring, inflammation, breathing and eventually serious health issues. Some of the more common side effects of exposure to asbestos include:

  • Shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness
  • Persistent cough that escalates over time
  • Blood in the fluid coughed up from the lungs
  • Pain or tightening in the chest
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Appetite loss
  • Swelling of the neck or face
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue or anemia

If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms or suspect you may have been exposed to asbestos, contact your doctor immediately.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis

When a person experiences symptoms of mesothelioma, tests and procedures can be performed to determine the cause and develop a treatment plan. The most common and effective diagnostic procedures are:

  • Imaging tests (X-ray, CT, PET, MRI)
  • Blood-marker tests (blood test to find cancer cells)
  • Biopsies (tissue or fluid sample taken from a tumor or the surrounding area)

Always remember to choose a doctor who has extensive experience diagnosing mesothelioma as it is extremely important to catch this disease as early as possible.

Types of Mesothelioma

Based on the location where the first tumor develops, there are four primary types of mesothelioma.

  1. Pleural – develops in the lungs
  2. Peritoneal – develops in the abdomen
  3. Pericardial – develops in the heart
  4. Testicular – develops in the testicles

Mesothelioma can also be categorized based on the type of the cancer cell (epithelioid, sarcomatoid, biphasic) and according to the degree of malignancy.

Recent Settlements from Litigation

The majority of mesothelioma cases end in settlements before ever reaching the courtroom. According to a recent Mealey’s Litigation Report, the average mesothelioma trial award is estimated to be around $2.4 million, while the average settlement is between $1 million and $1.4 million.

However, some larger cases result in much more substantial court awards and settlements. Below are some prominent mesothelioma cases and settlements:

  • In 2011, a circuit court judge in Missouri awarded $10 million to a woman who was exposed to asbestos during a renovation project done by U.S. Engineering Company. The woman died two years later, and two former co-workers filed a class action suit against Jackson County and U.S. Engineering. The case resulted in an $80 million settlement.
  • In 2005, in a rare example of a case settling after trial, U.S. Steel was ordered to pay $250 million to the wife of a former steelworker who died of mesothelioma. The company reached a post-verdict settlement for an undisclosed amount said to be much less than the compensatory award.
  • In Montana, the mass asbestos exposure from the infamous vermiculite mines in Libby resulted in two major payouts: A $43 million settlement in 2011 for more than 1,300 miners and their families, and a $25 million settlement for more than 1,000 miners in January 2017.
  • In New York in 2006, a retired police officer and brake specialist reached a $25 million settlement with Daimler-Chrysler, which exposed him (and many others) to asbestos while working on their asbestos-lined brakes.

If you or a loved one has been exposed to or injured by asbestos, contact the lawyers at My Vaccine Lawyer to learn if you are entitled to compensation. 800.229.7704.