An estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people in the United States die each year as a result of illnesses caused by asbestos exposure. A fatal illness known as mesothelioma causes more than 2,000 of these deaths, and about 1,200 more are caused by a combination of mesothelioma and asbestos-related cancers, usually lung cancer.
Mesothelioma, while a relatively rare disease, is most often caused by asbestos exposure, and it is always fatal. Those suffering from the illness are often individuals who were exposed to asbestos on the job, as the material was commonly used in dozens of industries just a few decades ago.
If you or your loved one were exposed to asbestos in the workplace and have since been diagnosed with mesothelioma, there may be compensation available to help recover the expenses and profound impacts that you have incurred due to your illness. Read on for more information. For inquiries about your legal rights and options, contact our Florida Mesothelioma Lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, today for a consultation.
Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma in Florida
As explained by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), asbestos is a name used to describe a group of naturally occurring mineral fibers known to be resistant to heat and corrosion that were widely used in hundreds of thousands of workplaces across Florida and the rest of the nation in the mid-twentieth century. The mineral fibers included in asbestos are chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, actinolite, and any of these chemically treated or altered materials.
Some of the common ways that asbestos was used in this country include:
- Insulation in pipes
- Floor tiles
- Building materials, including attic and wall insulation, textured paint, and patching compounds used on walls and ceilings
- Heat-resistant fabrics
- Vehicle brakes and clutches
Workers in industries that use these products, such as those working in manufacturing, construction, and vehicle maintenance and repair, found themselves exposed to asbestos. In addition to workers, others often become exposed to asbestos during demolition projects of buildings or building features that contain asbestos.
Some of the most common workplaces in Florida in which workers have been exposed to asbestos include:
- Shipyards: In the past, asbestos was commonly used in the construction and repair of vessels.
- Power plants: Power generation companies used asbestos in their facilities to protect them against heat and electricity.
- Agriculture: Asbestos exposure can occur in agricultural areas due to the presence of fibers in the soil, as well as within the processing activities with certain crops, such as sugar.
- Oil platforms: The oil and gas industry often used asbestos in their wells to prevent damage from these highly flammable operations.
Asbestos is now well-recognized as a health hazard, and its use in the U.S. is regulated by OSHA as well as by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Though asbestos fibers are impossible to see with the naked eye, these fibers—when breathed in by workers—can not only cause a buildup of scar-like tissue on the lungs, known as asbestosis but can also result in mesothelioma and/or lung cancer.
Exposure generally only occurs when the asbestos-containing material becomes disturbed or damaged. However, there is no “safe” level of asbestos exposure, and all of the various mineral fibers included in its name are capable of causing mesothelioma.
Because it can take anywhere from two to seven decades for a person to develop mesothelioma, more than 3,000 new cases are being diagnosed each year although asbestos was regulated in the U.S. since 1971 and the U.S. curtailed its production of asbestos in 2002. Men are far more likely to develop the disease than women are, and the average age for people receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis is 69. Around 30 percent of all individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma are U.S. military veterans. Navy veterans are most impacted due to the prevalence of asbestos-containing materials in shipyards.
Preventing Exposure to Asbestos
While asbestos is a federally regulated substance and the government has made an effort to prevent exposure, there are things that you could do to limit the exposure to you and your family to this dangerous material and the severe illnesses it can cause.
Some of these include:
- Take time to learn about the soils in your geographical area and whether there is asbestos in your area.
- Wet the ground outside before gardening or letting your children play in it. Remember that asbestos is naturally occurring and is found in some types of rocks. Asbestos can be released into the air if these rocks are disturbed. Wetting them down with water will prevent the airborne fibers from finding a home in your lungs.
- Drive slowly on unpaved roads to prevent asbestos fibers from being released into the air.
- Support local ordinances that aim to reduce the amount of dust that is created at construction sites.
- Cover existing gardens or yards with asbestos-free soil that will trap the asbestos and prevent the fibers from becoming airborne.
- Avoid walking or visiting old building sites with visible waste as asbestos-containing materials may be present and exposed.
- Avoid touching any materials found in your home that may contain asbestos. This includes old pipe insulation, textured ceilings, damaged floor tiles, and vermiculite attic insulation.
- If you are planning to do extensive home remodels, have an asbestos professional survey your home for potential hazards before you begin work.
- If you live in an area where asbestos is naturally occurring or you have been working at a job site that contains asbestos, take care to use doormats and to remove your shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in asbestos dust.
- Keep windows and doors closed during windy days or when there is construction taking place nearby.
Having Your Home Inspected for Asbestos
One of the primary sources of current-day exposure to asbestos occurs when homeowners decide to renovate their older homes. In previous generations, asbestos was readily used in building materials, and many of those materials still exist. If the inspector does find asbestos in your home, he or she should provide you with a listing of the materials and locations in the home where the asbestos is present, as well as any recommendations on protecting or removing the materials.
You should never attempt to remove possible asbestos-containing materials on your own. Instead, call an asbestos inspector to come and collect samples of the materials to test them. If asbestos is discovered, then hire a federally licensed contractor to remove it.
If you are selecting a contractor, here are some things you should know:
- Avoid a conflict of interest. Your asbestos inspector should not be connected in any way with the contractor you hire for your asbestos replacement project.
- You should only hire a contractor who is licensed by the government to perform this work. The contractor’s license demonstrates that he or she has been properly trained in the safe removal of asbestos-containing materials.
- Ask the contractor to provide his or her safety procedures to you in writing.
- Ask the contractor that you are considering to provide you with references who have received similar services.
- Be aware that there are contractors who will remove the material incorrectly, leave some materials behind, and still charge a substantial fee for their labor.
Florida Mesothelioma Lawyer Near Me 833-552-7274
Florida Mesothelioma Lawyers Must Understand the Federal Regulations Pertaining to Asbestos
The EPA issued regulations regarding the use and abatement of asbestos.
Those regulations include:
- The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act: This law requires local educational agencies to inspect public school buildings to identify asbestos-containing materials, prepare abatement plans, and perform response actions to reduce asbestos hazards.
- The Asbestos Information Act: This law requires manufacturers to report asbestos-containing products to the EPA.
- Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act: This law provides loans and grants for schools needing asbestos abatement and also increased the number of training hours required for those performing abatement projects on all commercial buildings.
- Restrictions on Discontinued Use of Asbestos Rule: This federal rule strengthens the EPA’s ability to rigorously review a list of products that contain asbestos and are no longer on the market in the U.S. before they can be sold again here.
- Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools Rule: This rule requires non-profit private schools to take the same steps that public schools are required to follow.
- EPA Asbestos Worker Protection Rule: This rule extends worker protection requirements to state and local government employees who perform asbestos work and who were not previously covered by OSHA’s asbestos regulations.
- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA): Also known as the Superfund, this law was enacted to address abandoned hazardous waste sites. Asbestos was designated as a hazardous substance, and waste sites containing asbestos can now qualify for Superfund designation.
Other agencies also have asbestos regulations, including OSHA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
For a free legal consultation with a mesothelioma lawyer serving Florida, call 833-552-7274
Florida Laws Concerning Mesothelioma Caused by Asbestos
Florida officials regulate the use of asbestos and the safe abatement of asbestos found in buildings and products across the state. Additionally, the state has a law providing for legal claims from individuals who became ill from asbestos.
Initially intended to streamline the process of legal claims related to asbestos exposure and limit the claims that can be made by workers against successor companies, the Asbestos and Silica Compensation Act was put in place to:
- Give priority to true victims of asbestos and silica, with actual physical impairment caused by exposure to asbestos and silica.
- Preserve the rights of claimants to pursue compensation if they have become impaired due to exposure.
- Provide the state court with the ability to supervise and control asbestos and silica litigation.
- Conserve the resources of the defendants to allow compensation of those who have been harmed by asbestos and silica exposure and secure future claimants’ rights to similar compensation.
Florida requires plaintiffs who have suffered asbestos-related mesothelioma to file their claims in court within four years of receiving the mesothelioma diagnosis. For family members of individuals who have died from mesothelioma, the time limit to file a wrongful death mesothelioma lawsuit is within two years of their loved one’s death from mesothelioma.
Who Is Eligible to Bring a Mesothelioma Claim?
According to Florida’s law, individuals are eligible to seek compensation if:
- The claimant lives in the state, or the asbestos exposure that is a significant contributing factor to the claimant’s illness occurred in the state.
- The claimant submits a written report and supporting test results that show that the claimant’s illness meets the requirements of the law. The claimant must also submit his or her address and contact information, as well as the specific location(s) in which the exposure occurred.
- The claimant who is seeking compensation following a diagnosis of cancer of the lung, larynx, pharynx, or esophagus is not a smoker.
- They have evidence demonstrating that ample time has passed between the exposure and the diagnosis. This is known as the latency period. Cancer generally takes some time to form. If a person was exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with mesothelioma a week later, the cancer was almost certainly caused by another factor.
While this is not an exhaustive list of the requirements for filing a claim, in determining whether you qualify, you must meet these general criteria. Filing a mesothelioma personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is just one method of recovering damages caused by your asbestos exposure. Depending on the facts of your case, there are other options, including seeking VA benefits if you are a veteran who was exposed to asbestos during your military service or a workers’ compensation claim if you were exposed to asbestos on a job site.
Let our attorneys help you understand the options that are available to you. Contact us today.
Mesothelioma Caused by Asbestos Exposure
One of the most serious consequences of asbestos exposure is an incurable illness called mesothelioma. If you or your loved one have been diagnosed with this disease, there is compensation available to reimburse the out-of-pocket costs associated with treating your disease, as well as the profound impacts that the illness has on your life. Read on for more information about mesothelioma.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare and incurable cancer that affects the cells that make up the mesothelium. The mesothelium is a membrane that protects several organs in the body, including the lungs, abdomen, and heart. Up to 80 percent of individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma have a history of significant asbestos exposure, making that the major risk factor for acquiring the disease.
Other factors that are believed to increase the risk of mesothelioma are:
- Secondary asbestos exposure. This generally occurs when an individual who was exposed to asbestos inadvertently carried the fibers home on the skin or clothing.
- A genetic predisposition to the disease. Many individuals who are exposed to asbestos will not develop mesothelioma. Those who do often have an inherited mutation of a tumor suppressor gene.
- In rare cases, the cause of mesothelioma is unknown. There could have been asbestos exposure that the individual was unaware of or exposure to other causative agents such as radiation, certain chemicals, or viruses.
While there are several different forms of mesothelioma, 85 percent of individuals in the U.S. who are diagnosed with the disease have the pleural form, which affects the lining of the lungs.
Mesothelioma often produces symptoms such as:
- A dry, chronic cough.
- Shortness of breath.
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing.
- Pain in the chest or abdomen.
- A mass on the chest wall or unusual lumps of tissue.
- Fluid around the lungs.
- Fever or night sweats.
- Muscle weakness.
These symptoms are often confused with other, less deadly illnesses, which can delay diagnosis in the early stages. The prognosis when diagnosed with mesothelioma, is not good. Most individuals with this disease have a life expectancy of under two years, despite several treatment options being available. As with other forms of cancer, mesothelioma is defined in stages, with the first stage being less serious and offering the most treatment options.
How Is Mesothelioma Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of mesothelioma consists of several steps, including:
- The presence of symptoms associated with this disease, However, mesothelioma (particularly in the early stages) often presents with few or any symptoms. The disease can be “accidentally” caught through diagnostic imaging tests that were performed for another reason.
- A detailed medical and work history. Gathering information regarding known asbestos exposure from a worksite or noting secondary exposure from a family member who was exposed to asbestos.
- Clinical testing and workup: During this phase, diagnostic imaging tests such as CT or PET scans will be used to view the organs to detect tumors.
- A biopsy: A mesothelioma diagnosis can only be rendered after a biopsy of the affected area has been performed. A biopsy procedure involves extracting some of the cells from the area and studying them in the lab to detect the presence of mesothelioma.
- Staging: Once a patient has mesothelioma, additional evaluations will determine the progression of the disease and assign a stage to it. The stage of mesothelioma helps to choose the most effective treatment options.
The Impacts of Mesothelioma
As difficult as mesothelioma is to diagnose and effectively treat, it is an even more difficult disease to live with. The grim prognosis often leaves ill patients:
- Scrambling to tie up life’s loose ends,
- Ensuring their loved ones are properly cared for,
- Undergoing treatments that produce harsh side effects,
- Unable to work and needing an extended leave of absence from their jobs, and
- Facing expensive treatments without the benefit of insurance and financial assistance.
Mesothelioma is not only difficult for the individual who is diagnosed but also for family members who are faced with their loved one’s diminished life expectancy and must also help the individual with daily care and transport to medical appointments as the disease progresses. Often, a mesothelioma diagnosis creates emotional difficulties, from end-of-life decisions to anger about the asbestos exposure that caused the illness in the first place.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are undergoing treatment, a mesothelioma attorney can help you obtain the compensation you need to alleviate the financial burden that this disease places on patients and their families. Contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, for more information about how to recover damages related to your disease.
FAQs About Mesothelioma
If you or your loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you undoubtedly have a lot of questions about the disease and your ability to obtain the compensation that can help defray the expenses of treating it. Here are answers to some of the questions our mesothelioma clients most frequently ask us.
What options do I have for obtaining compensation following my mesothelioma diagnosis?
There are several options for recovering damages related to your mesothelioma diagnosis, the expenses your illness has caused, and the impacts your illness has had on your life.
Among these options are:
- A personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the party responsible for the asbestos exposure that caused you to develop mesothelioma.
- Asbestos trust funds. Many of the companies that exposed their workers to asbestos have since declared bankruptcy. As part of their bankruptcy filing, these companies were required to organize funds that will fairly compensate employees for their illnesses.
- VA benefits. If your military service exposed you to asbestos, you could seek coverage of medical expenses and other benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Workers’ compensation. Because several decades may pass between exposure and illness, most individuals suffering from mesothelioma cannot recover lost wages and medical expenses through workers’ compensation. Your lawyer can explore your options to determine which ones apply to your case.
- Social Security Disability Insurance. Many individuals who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma have received disability payments and other benefits by filing an expedited claim through Social Security Disability.
What do I need to prove to receive compensation through a mesothelioma lawsuit?
To file a mesothelioma lawsuit in Florida, you must prove that you are diagnosed with mesothelioma as the result of asbestos exposure or that your loved one died of the disease. You must provide specific locations where this asbestos exposure occurred. You must have received your diagnosis within the last four years, or your loved one must have died of diagnosed mesothelioma within the past two years.
Once you meet the general criteria for a mesothelioma lawsuit, you will be required to show your damages, including economic damages and the emotional impacts you have suffered as a result of the disease.
How long does a mesothelioma lawsuit take?
Most mesothelioma lawsuits are settled before trial. The timeframe involved in receiving compensation depends on several issues, including the time it takes to gather the evidence needed to prove your claim and the time provided for negotiations. Because the survival rate is so low with this disease, courts will often fast-track the process so that the claims are heard promptly.
Why is mesothelioma more common in men than in women?
Asbestos was present in many industries during a period of time when far more men than women were in the general workplace. Further, asbestos exposure commonly occurred in male-dominated industries.
Can I file a mesothelioma lawsuit due to asbestos exposure even if I have not been diagnosed with mesothelioma?
No. Many people who are exposed to asbestos do not ever develop mesothelioma. Because of this, Florida’s mesothelioma law establishes that there must be proof that the individual suffered actual physical harm to seek compensation, rather than compensating individuals who have not yet suffered harm.
If my asbestos exposure occurred during military service, should I file a personal injury lawsuit against the military?
No. Generally, personal injury lawsuits are filed against the company that produced the asbestos. However, the military may be an option for compensation and assistance through the VA program.
My loved one died as a result of mesothelioma from asbestos exposure. Could I receive compensation?
Yes. If you lost your spouse, a parent, or another biological relative who provided you with financial support due to mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure, you could request damages through a wrongful death claim. This is a legal claim filed in civil court within two years after the death.
Some of the damages that can be recovered in a mesothelioma wrongful death claim include:
- The value of support and services provided by the decedent to his or her survivors.
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and protection.
- Funeral and cremation or burial expenses that a surviving family member paid directly.
Are mesothelioma settlements taxable?
No. According to the Internal Revenue Service, mesothelioma settlements and court awards are not considered income and are generally not taxable. There are exceptions to this rule, so ask your Florida mesothelioma attorney to be sure.
How do asbestos trust funds work?
It is estimated that there are around 60 active trust funds in the U.S., with around $30 billion available for victims of asbestos-related diseases and their loved ones. Each of these trusts establishes different eligibility criteria, with all of the trusts requiring proof of prior asbestos exposure, diagnosis, and time between exposure and diagnosis.
Receiving compensation through a trust fund is generally a four-step process:
- The claim is filed.
- The trustees review the claim.
- The claim is validated and assigned a monetary amount. Expedited claims generally provide a predetermined amount of funding, while individual and extraordinary claims differ depending on the facts of each case, and amounts can be negotiated.
- Payment is offered, and the claimant has a set amount of time to either accept or decline the offer.
Why do I need to hire an attorney to pursue compensation for my mesothelioma diagnosis?
Mesothelioma is a serious illness, and enduring the treatment requires focus and energy. Pursuing compensation through one or more of the mesothelioma claim options is also a time-consuming process that requires energy and commitment. An experienced Florida mesothelioma lawyer can help you through this difficult time.
Our dedicated personal injury lawyers help mesothelioma victims like you by providing:
- Information about the various options for obtaining compensation and guidance as you decide which option is right for you.
- A valuation of your case based on the severity of your injury, your prognosis, the expenses you face, and the impacts you have endured as a result of your asbestos-related mesothelioma diagnosis.
- A thorough understanding of the processes involved in your legal options, including a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, filing a claim against mesothelioma trust funds, VA benefits, and Florida’s workers’ compensation program.
- Assistance in collecting and organizing the documentation required to prove your claim.
- Assistance filing your lawsuit in the proper jurisdiction within the statutory time limit.
- Advice about seeking compensation through a trust fund or benefits through the VA or workers’ compensation, and assist you with the application process.
- Tenacious negotiation skills to obtain a settlement on your behalf.
- Representation in all appellate hearings if your application for benefits is denied.
- Assistance with collecting your settlement, awards, or delayed benefits that you are entitled to receive.
For more information on how an attorney can assist you with your case, contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, today.
What to Do If You Were Diagnosed With Mesothelioma?
Being diagnosed with an incurable condition is a traumatic experience. Whatever your circumstances, there are some important things to do after you receive your diagnosis.
Seek Treatment for Your Disease
The most important thing you can do after receiving your diagnosis is to attend all of your medical appointments and seek treatment that can help you fight the disease. It is important to have a support system of family and friends to assist while you not only deal with the treatments but seek the compensation you need to help with your expenses as well.
Start Collecting Evidence
If you are planning to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit, an asbestos trust fund, one of the state or federal benefit programs such as Florida workers’ compensation, the VA disability program, or Social Security Disability, you will be required to prove certain elements of your case, including:
- The dates and specific locations where you were exposed to asbestos. This can be demonstrated by pay stubs or other work records relating to the company you worked for when the exposure occurred. In many cases, testimony from another individual who knew you worked near asbestos may be satisfactory.
- The date of your mesothelioma diagnosis and any information about the stage of the disease when you were diagnosed.
- The treatments that you have already experienced as well as additional treatments that you will need in the future.
- If you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit due to the loss of a loved one to mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure, you will need to supply the above information about your loved one’s exposure to asbestos, diagnosis of mesothelioma, and the date and cause of death.
Your attorney will let you know what other documentation you need, depending on which funding option you are pursuing, and can also help you in gathering and organizing this information.
Consider Your Options
Several funding options are available for individuals who have received a diagnosis of mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos or the family members of individuals who have died of asbestos-related mesothelioma.
These options include:
- Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. These lawsuits are filed in civil court and seek to prove someone else’s negligent actions caused physical harm. Lawsuits are generally filed against asbestos producers.
- Asbestos trust funds. Many of the companies involved in producing asbestos products have filed for bankruptcy. During those proceedings, the companies were ordered to provide funding for individuals who suffer physical harm as a result of their products. Your attorney can advise you of the trust fund options available in your case and help you evaluate which trust(s) would offer the most value.
- VA benefits: Asbestos was widely used on military bases and in military operations, resulting in a large number of mesothelioma cases. While asbestos litigation is not generally filed against the military, the military can be a source of medical treatment and disability benefits for those suffering from mesothelioma. An experienced mesothelioma attorney can provide you with more information about how to access these benefits.
- Social Security Disability Insurance. The social security payments you contributed during your years of work allow you to apply for disability benefits after your mesothelioma diagnosis. Your attorney can assist you in the application process for receiving these payments, as well as the appeals process if your application is denied.
- Workers’ compensation: Because mesothelioma often has a latency period of several decades, most people are no longer employed by the company where they worked when they were exposed to asbestos, making this option unavailable in a lot of cases. However, your attorney will study the facts of your case and, if workers’ compensation is an option, help you with the process of obtaining those benefits.
You might simultaneously pursue some of these options. Receiving assistance from one option might dramatically affect how much you receive from other options. Your attorney can provide you with a fuller understanding of which options will complement each other to provide you with the maximum compensation available.
Speak With a Florida Mesothelioma Lawyer Today
If you wait to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer, your options may be limited. A mesothelioma personal injury lawsuit in Florida must be filed within four years after your diagnosis. To recover damages related to your loved one’s death from mesothelioma, you must file a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit within two years after the date of death. Failure to observe these deadlines generally results in the court declining to hear the case.
Not only will beginning the legal process right away help preserve your funding options, but in some cases, it will also allow your attorney to expedite the proceedings to recover compensation as soon as possible.
Things to Look for in a Mesothelioma Lawyer
Not all personal injury lawyers handle mesothelioma lawsuits or have the specific experience that is needed to guide mesothelioma patients through the complex legal process. Trust a compassionate Florida personal injury lawyer at Dolman Law Group to help you file a lawsuit, submit a claim against relevant funding sources, or pursue other legal options on your behalf. Our personal injury lawyers provide free consultations to prospective clients.
Some of the things you should look for when selecting a personal injury attorney include:
- Experience with handling mesothelioma cases. Ask for references from past mesothelioma clients or their family members who can share their level of satisfaction with the attorney’s services.
- A solid understanding of mesothelioma, the treatment options, the prognosis, and the funding sources available for individuals with this type of cancer.
- Knowledge of past asbestos cases and which factors influenced the outcome.
- A strong network of medical and legal specialists who can help prove the elements of your case and provide expert testimony if needed.
- Compassion for you and your family and a willingness to explore all options to help you obtain the compensation you need.
Mesothelioma in Florida? Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, Can Help
The legal team at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, is committed to serving our mass tort cases clients in Florida and others who have suffered personal injuries. We have experience in mesothelioma cases, including legal claims resulting in either litigation or a negotiated settlement, asbestos trust funds, and the claims or application processes involved in other benefit programs. We provide free consultations for prospective clients, and we also work on a contingent fee basis.
Because of the time constraints of your disease and the processes involved in obtaining compensation, talk to a mesothelioma lawyer right away at Dolman Law Group to protect your right to compensation.
With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at (833) 700-MESO  or by contacting us online.