Clearwater Workers’ Compensation Benefits For Mesothelioma

January 12, 2024 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Clearwater Workers’ Compensation Benefits For Mesothelioma

While mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer and diagnoses have decreased in recent decades, about 3,000 people continue to receive this diagnosis each year in the United States. Many cases of mesothelioma stem from work, giving victims the potential right to file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits.

Few workers’ comp claims are simple, even when there is clear evidence of the work-related illness or injury. The matter can become even more challenging when mesothelioma is the basis of the claim. Victims might also have other legal avenues to pursue compensation for this life-threatening condition.

Consulting with a Clearwater workers’ compensation attorney can greatly benefit workers in Florida with a mesothelioma diagnosis. The right law firm can identify all sources of possible compensation and benefits to support you and your family in this difficult time.

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What is Mesothelioma?

Workers’ Compensation Benefits For Mesothelioma in Clearwater

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive cancer that develops in the thin layer of tissue surrounding the lungs known as the pleura. The disease is caused primarily by the inhalation of microscopic asbestos fibers. Once inhaled, these fibers can become lodged in the lining around the lungs. The fibers accumulate in the body and cause cellular and genetic damage that can ultimately lead to cancer.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

During the initial stages, pleural mesothelioma frequently presents symptoms related to the respiratory system, leading to frequent misdiagnosis. Initial symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are often confused with pneumonia, asthma, or another respiratory ailment, and the disease requires complex tests to provide a definitive diagnosis. In the early stages of the work-related disease, there are many different symptoms, including:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Chronic cough
  • Excess fluid around the lungs
  • Significant weight loss

Suppose an individual has these symptoms along with a history of asbestos exposure. Seeking immediate medical attention is crucial for prompt diagnosis and timely treatment. Visiting a medical professional ensures addressing potential health concerns and taking necessary steps for your well-being.

Later Stages of Mesothelioma

In stage II, as tumors spread beyond the pleural lung lining and into the lung and diaphragm, pain may increase and may be felt in the shoulder or upper abdomen in addition to the chest. Difficulty breathing and coughing may arise or worse at this stage. During stage III, tumors spread more thoroughly throughout the chest, placing pressure on the lungs and chest wall. These physical changes can lead to increased pain and difficulty breathing, dry cough, tightness in the chest, fatigue, and weight loss.

By stage IV, tumors have spread throughout the chest and rarely spread to distant locations. The degree of tumor burden in the chest can severely worsen pulmonary symptoms like shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include lumps of tissue under the skin on the chest, pain in the lower back, fever, and night sweats. Some patients experience a hoarse voice and difficulty swallowing. At this stage, patients often need help breathing and require continuous oxygen.

Workers' Compensation Benefits for Clearwater Workers with Mesothelioma

In Clearwater and throughout Florida, workers suffered exposure to deadly asbestos fibers without their knowledge. Some of the most high-risk jobs in Florida for mesothelioma include:

Shipyard Workers

Shipyard workers face a high risk of exposure to asbestos due to its prevalent use in ship construction and repair. Builders commonly use asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in insulation, boiler linings, gaskets, and fireproof doors. Cutting, sanding, or removing these materials, especially in confined ship spaces, increases the likelihood of inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers. This risk extends to various shipyard roles, including welders, pipefitters, and electricians working on ships.

Construction Workers

Construction workers encounter asbestos in multiple forms, such as cement, roofing shingles, ceiling tiles, and insulation. Manufacturers frequently utilized asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in insulation, boiler linings, gaskets, and fireproof doors. As these materials age or become disturbed, asbestos fibers can become airborne, threatening workers without adequate respiratory protection.


Mechanics, particularly those working with older vehicles, are exposed to asbestos in brake linings, clutches, and gaskets. Repairing or replacing these parts can release asbestos fibers into the air. Mechanics working in poorly ventilated spaces are at an increased risk of inhalation.

Power Plant Workers

Power plants utilize asbestos due to its heat-resistant properties in insulation, fireproofing, and protective gear. Maintenance and repair activities often disturb these materials, releasing asbestos fibers. Dismantling or repairing old equipment insulated with asbestos elevates the risk.

Mill Workers

Workers in mills, particularly in paper and textile industries, were commonly exposed to asbestos used for insulation and fireproofing. Handling raw asbestos or maintenance of equipment lined with ACMs poses significant exposure risks.


Steel mills use asbestos for its heat-resistant properties in protective clothing, insulation, and fireproofing. Workers installing, maintaining, or removing these materials are at risk. Asbestos exposure can occur during smelting or when working near insulation containing asbestos.

Railroad Workers

Asbestos in brake and clutch linings, gaskets, and insulation in trains and railroads poses a significant risk to railroad workers. Maintenance, repair, and renovation of older railroad equipment and infrastructure can disturb asbestos-containing components, leading to exposure.


Pipefitters are at risk due to using asbestos in insulating pipes, especially in older buildings and ships. Cutting, fitting, or replacing these pipes can release asbestos fibers. The risk is particularly high in confined spaces where ventilation is limited.


Plumbers may encounter asbestos in old pipe insulation, gaskets, and cement used in plumbing systems. Exposure can occur during the installation, repair, or replacement of these asbestos-containing materials, especially in older buildings.


Insulators dealing with ACMs in pipes, ducts, boilers, and other appliances are at high risk. The cutting, fitting, or removal of insulation can release asbestos fibers, especially in older buildings or during renovation projects.


Electrician workers in older buildings might encounter asbestos in wire insulation, electrical panels, and other components. The disturbance of old, asbestos-containing electrical insulation can release fibers, especially during renovation or demolition activities.


General laborers face asbestos exposure during demolition, remodeling, or maintenance across multiple industries. This risk is not confined to a specific task but extends to any activity that disturbs ACMs, such as tearing down walls, removing insulation, or cleaning up construction debris.

What This Means

Workers in these jobs are at higher risk than the general population for being diagnosed with mesothelioma or an asbestos-related disease in their lifetime. According to the United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Florida ranks second in the United States for deaths from malignant mesothelioma, with 4,481 asbestos-related deaths reported in Florida.

Suppose you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. In that case, you will likely have many questions about living with mesothelioma and what legal claims you have against asbestos manufacturers and asbestos companies for your asbestos exposure.

It is also possible that you can file a workers' compensation claim for your work-related injury. Workers' compensation is a viable option for financial recovery for victims of asbestos-related illnesses. Worker's compensation payments may be a lump sum or weekly payments. These payments are not taxable. While Workers' Compensation payments typically will not equal salary while employed, these payments can help alleviate some financial burdens.

Workers' Compensation Law in Florida

Chronic Cough -Mesothelioma Symptom

Workers' compensation in Florida provides support for employees who suffer work-related illnesses or injuries, including those related to asbestos exposure and resulting conditions like mesothelioma. Here's an in-depth look at the key aspects of Florida's workers' compensation laws:


In Florida, most employers must have workers' compensation insurance. This includes construction businesses with one or more employees and non-construction businesses with four or more employees.

To be eligible, the individual must be an employee (not an independent contractor), and the illness or injury must be work-related.

Claim Process

Employees should report their work-related illness or injury to their employer immediately. Florida law mandates this within 30 days of recognizing the work-related condition.

Employees should seek medical treatment, and the employer may direct them to a specific healthcare provider.

Once notified, the employer must report the injury or illness to their insurance company within seven days.

The insurance company then files a First Report of Injury or Illness with the Florida Division of Workers' Compensation.


Workers' compensation covers all essential medical treatments for work-related injuries or illnesses. These treatments encompass various medical expenses, such as doctor visits, hospitalization, physical therapy sessions, and necessary medications.

Compensation for lost income becomes applicable when the illness or injury causes the employee to be absent from work. Typically, this compensation constitutes a portion of their regular income, providing financial support during the period of absence due to the work-related condition.

Partial or Total Disability Benefits in Florida

In Florida, workers' compensation provides specific benefits for employees who suffer from partial or total disability due to a work-related illness or injury:

  • Temporary Disability: Employees who cannot work temporarily may receive temporary total or partial disability benefits. Typically, these benefits constitute a percentage of the employee's regular income and provide the duration of the disability up to a maximum period defined by law.
  • Permanent Disability: In cases of permanent disability, the employee may be eligible for long-term benefits, whether total or partial. The amount and duration of these benefits depend on the severity and nature of the disability, as determined by medical evaluation and legal guidelines.

Death Benefits in Florida

In Florida, the workers' compensation system offers vital death benefits to families of employees who have passed away due to work-related injuries or illnesses. The eligibility for these benefits is contingent upon the timing of the death, which must occur either within one year of the workplace accident or within five years in cases of continuous disability linked to the accident. Families need to file their claims within two years from the reasonable knowledge of the death being work-related.

The primary beneficiaries of these benefits are usually the deceased worker's spouse and children. In such cases, the spouse can receive up to 50 percent of the deceased worker's average weekly income, with an additional 16 ⅔ percent allocated for the children. However, if the deceased worker has no surviving spouse or children, other dependents like parents or siblings may be eligible, particularly if they were financially dependent on the deceased.

The compensation provided to a family under these benefits has a cap of $150,000, which includes payments for dependents and up to $7,500 for funeral expenses. The weekly benefit amount is subject to a state-determined maximum of $939 per week for incidents occurring in recent years or later. There's also a provision for the surviving spouse in the event of remarriage, where they may receive a lump-sum payment equating to 50 percent of the deceased spouse's weekly income projected over 26 months.

Important Considerations

  • Time Limits: There are strict time limits for reporting injuries and filing claims, making timely action necessary.
  • Choice of Doctor: In Florida, the employer or insurance company generally has the right to choose the healthcare provider.
  • Dispute Resolution: Employees can file a petition for benefits with the Florida Division of Workers' Compensation if there is a dispute over benefits.

Contact a Clearwater Workers' Compensation Attorney

Due to the intricate nature of the laws surrounding workers' compensation, if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma following exposure to asbestos in the workplace, seeking advice from a Clearwater personal injury attorney becomes essential. Consulting with legal professionals allows for a thorough discussion of your rights and available legal remedies in such cases. Understanding the complexities involved and exploring the options for adequate support and legal recourse are crucial.

Not every workers’ compensation lawyer handles mesothelioma cases, as they can be more challenging than other types of benefit claims. Always seek representation from a law firm with the experience and resources necessary to obtain the workers’ comp benefits you need following a devastating mesothelioma diagnosis.

Consultations should be free of charge, so you never have to worry about paying costly upfront legal fees. Instead, you only pay fees if your lawyer successfully obtains compensation or benefits for you. You have nothing to lose; consult a lawyer today.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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