At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, our mesothelioma cancer lawyers represent victims and their families across the state of Florida and the nation. This is a collective effort to achieve justice via compensation for the harms and losses an asbestos victim has incurred. We know that after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis, your entire world may come crashing down. It is difficult to know what to do next and where to turn. During this time, you deserve compassionate and aggressive legal representation.
What is a Mesothelioma Lawyer?
Our mesothelioma lawyers focus on mesothelioma litigation and are dedicated to getting our clients the compensation they deserve. Legal options are abundantly available if you have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace or if you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma.
An asbestos attorney can help you file a mesothelioma claim against the company responsible for this exposure. Call a Florida mesothelioma lawyer today for a free case evaluation. Keep in mind that mesothelioma claims are inherently complicated and potentially involve catastrophic damages. Thus, it is essential that victims avoid a run-of-the-mill personal injury attorney. Hence, the importance of finding a mesothelioma cancer lawyer.
Asbestos Exposure in Florida
Asbestos victims often fail to make the connection between the disease of mesothelioma and the exposure that may have occurred decades prior. Florida has a rich history of shipbuilding. It is worth noting that the family of workers could have easily been exposed to asbestos from the clothes used at a specific job site.
There are numerous industries wherein asbestos use was prevalent, including shipyards, power plants, oil refineries, construction sites, and chemical plants. Working in or having family employed within such industries is a risk factor for mesothelioma.
Other risk factors for asbestos exposure include living or working close to an industry that utilizes asbestos, or living within a home that was built with such. It is possible that your exposure could have been decades ago.
Within just a short drive from our Tampa Bay office are multiple sites that, at a specific point, contained significant asbestos exposure. This includes the Anclote Power Plant, Ft. Myers Power Plant, Crystal River Power Plant, and Tampa Bay Shipbuilding. There are also countless other job sites throughout Florida.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the commercial term that refers to a variety of six naturally occurring fibrous silicate minerals. Asbestos has been used for decades in thousands of commercials products because it is resistant to fire, heat and water, sound, and chemicals and does not conduct electricity.
These minerals are a known carcinogen (material or product that causes cancer); exposure to such is the only known cause of mesothelioma. An asbestos mesothelioma lawyer should be familiar with the various methods how this carcinogen was used, both in the workplace and in the construction of residential and commercial structures.
Throughout the 20th century, asbestos was routinely used in many industries and thousands of commercial and household products, such as insulation and fireproofing materials, automotive brakes, textile products, cement, and wallboard materials, because of the multitude of resistance. However, the benefits of using asbestos did not outweigh the fact that if asbestos fibers are inhaled or swallowed, it could lead to a deadly and incurable cancer – mesothelioma.
A Mesothelioma Lawyer Near Me
We handle asbestos related mesothelioma cases statewide and work with referral partners in other states. Thus, if you are a victim and seeking to file an asbestos lawsuit, call a mesothelioma cancer attorney today to discuss your rights.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare, highly aggressive asbestos-related cancer that typically affects the lining of the lungs. However, it can also develop in the lining of the abdomen or heart. Mesothelioma is incurable, with a life expectancy of 12 months for most patients after diagnosis. The only known and recognized cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. In fact, the cancer is often caused by inhaling asbestos fibers into ones' lungs.
- Every year, more than 3,000 cases of mesothelioma cancer are diagnosed in the United States.
- The average age of a mesothelioma patient is 69.
- The majority of mesothelioma diagnoses are men.
- The average life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is 12 to 21 months.
Types of Mesothelioma and Types of Treatment
The prognosis, symptoms, and treatment options vary by the type of mesothelioma. There are four types of mesothelioma cancer that are identified by the location of where the tumors develop in the body. Symptoms, prognosis, and treatments vary by the type of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma usually takes 20 to 50 years to develop after first exposure to asbestos. Because of this, the disease typically affects people older than 75.
Pleural Mesothelioma is the most common of the four types and is a cancer that forms on the soft tissue covering the lungs. It is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers, which are inhaled into the lungs. Over time, these fibers cause irritation, chronic inflammation and genetic changes that turn cells cancerous. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma cancer.
- Symptoms: Shortness of breath, chest pain, fever and fatigue.
- Prognosis: The life expectancy is approximately 12 months for about 2 in 5 patients with an average that is often less than 18 months.
- Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiation therapy or immunotherapy.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma is the second-most-common type of mesothelioma, where cancer tumors develop in the peritoneum when asbestos fibers become lodged in the tissue that lines the abdomen. It is caused by swallowing asbestos fibers that travel from the digestive system to the peritoneum.
- Symptoms: Abdominal pain, bloating and bowel movement changes.
- Prognosis: More favorable than pleural mesothelioma with 25% of patients surviving for three years.
- Treatment: Surgery and chemotherapy.
Pericardial Mesothelioma is an extremely rare cancer that affects the protective lining of the heart. Because it is so rare, accounting for less than 1% of total cases, researchers know very little about how asbestos fibers reach the heart.
- Symptoms: Chest pain, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, and a persistent cough.
- Prognosis: This type of mesothelioma has the worst prognosis, with only 50% of patients surviving six months.
- Treatment: Surgery.
Testicular Mesothelioma is the least common form of mesothelioma cancer that forms on the membrane lining the testes (tunica vaginalis). It is also extremely rare, and it is not understood how asbestos exposure causes a tumor to develop on the membrane.
- Symptoms: Pain in the testes or groin, a lump or mass on the testicles, and swelling of the scrotum.
- Prognosis: This type of mesothelioma has the most favorable prognosis with a patient's average survival of two years.
- Treatment: Surgery and chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of mesothelioma don't tend to appear until the disease has spread, making it extremely difficult to diagnose and treat. It can take from 10 to 40 years or more for symptoms to appear. Early symptoms of the disease are often mistaken for common illnesses and ailments that often lead healthcare providers to dismiss, ignore or misdiagnose the symptoms, delaying treatment.
Stages of Mesothelioma
Staging mesothelioma is a key part of the mesothelioma diagnosis and the way that doctors determine the progression of the mesothelioma cancer in one's body and then plan the best course of treatment. These stages of mesothelioma range from 1 to 4 and are based on the size and location of the tumor. Early-stage mesothelioma tends to be more confined to one site, while in late-stage mesothelioma, the tumors have spread beyond their initial location.
- Stage 1 – This stage has the most optimistic prognosis as the disease is localized to the tumor. Surgery is most effective, and the survival rate is much higher in this stage as the cancer is again localized. The patient's median life expectancy of a stage 1 diagnosis is 22.2 months. However, it is possible that an individual who is able to undergo surgery or radiation therapy and subsequent successful treatment can live for many years.
- Stage 2 – Cancer cells have spread to nearby organs and tissue (potentially the lymph nodes) in this stage. Surgery is still an option. The patient's median life expectancy of a stage 2 diagnosis is 19 to 73 months. Symptoms include chronic coughing, shortness of breath, chest and abdominal pain.
- Stage 3 – In this stage, cancer has spread into the regional lymph nodes, chest wall and lungs. Surgery is only an option in select circumstances. The patient's median life expectancy of a stage 3 diagnosis is 16 to 26 months.
- Stage 4 – Tumors have spread into distant organs
Diagnosis, Prognosis and Treatment
Diagnosis — An early mesothelioma diagnosis increases the chances of a patient qualifying for all treatments. A surgical biopsy is the only test that confirms a mesothelioma diagnosis. However, doctors may use additional diagnostic procedures such as imaging tests and blood analysis. Blood tests and imaging scans provide the Oncologist more tools to determine the extent of the tumor, the cell type of cancer identified and how widespread mesothelioma is within the body.
Prognosis — The prognosis for mesothelioma is the overall outlook for the patient. The prognosis is usually not good as mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer, often terminal, with no cure. The average life expectancy is 14 to 22 months after diagnosis, with most patients living only 1 year after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. How long you live depends on the stage in which you are diagnosed and how you respond to the mesothelioma treatments.
- Early-Stage Prognosis — Patients diagnosed in stage or 1 or 2 often qualify for surgery and have the best chance at long-term survival. Patients who undergo surgery have an average life expectancy of 22.2 months.
- Late-Stage Prognosis — The majority of patients are diagnosed late (stage 3 or 4) and do not qualify for surgery.
Treatment — Prognosis is a factor in determining treatment options, but the mesothelioma cancer's stage, for the most part, determines which mesothelioma treatments you will qualify for. The most common treatment for mesothelioma involves a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, also referred to as multimodal therapy or multimodality treatment.
- Radiation therapy
Some patients are beating the typical prognosis thanks to advances in treatment and care by opting for treatments that include clinical trials and alternative therapies.
What Causes Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor caused by the inhalation of microscopic airborne asbestos fibers. These fibers become embedded in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. These fibers then damage mesothelial cells and cause inflammation. Over a period of time, tumors develop on the damaged mesothelium in the lining of the lungs, abdominal cavity or heart. Exposure to asbestos fibers is the primary cause of mesothelioma.
People exposed to asbestos at work, home or in the military have the highest risk of developing this cancerous disease. Anyone exposed to asbestos decades ago is now at risk of developing mesothelioma, as it takes 20–50 years for these diseases to develop and cause noticeable symptoms.
Industries and Occupations in Which Asbestos Exposure is Prevalent
Dozens of industries and numerous occupations have come to rely on the use of asbestos. Before the health risks associated with asbestos became widely known, asbestos was used in almost all construction materials and in jobs that put people in direct contact with asbestos.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), most people develop asbestos-related illnesses from being exposed to it regularly, at their jobs where they work directly with the material or through substantial environmental contact.
Industries & Occupations With A High Mesothelioma Risk
- Automotive industry (i.e., mechanics)
- Pipe Fitters
- Power Plant Employee
- U.S. Navy Sailors
- Steel & Sheet Metal
The manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew the health risks of asbestos decades before the public did, but concealed evidence that asbestos was dangerous by putting profits over people's lives. Employers and workers did not know that constant exposure would put them at risk of mesothelioma later on.
In recent years, the use of asbestos has declined in the United States, but it has not stopped completely, and it has not been banned. Consequently, exposure to asbestos through your employment is still a very real risk.
Secondary Asbestos Exposure
Though certain industries are at risk of being exposed to asbestos, there are also cases of mesothelioma seen in individuals without occupational asbestos exposure. Non-workplace related mesothelioma includes:
- People who live or used to live in a residential area near an asbestos-contaminated site.
- Worksite visitors, office personnel, and anyone else who may have been in or around an asbestos-contaminated worksite.
- Those who live near mines.
- People who have served in the military on ships or in facilities constructed with asbestos materials.
- Those who have been exposed during home or office renovations.
- People who live in older apartment buildings and houses that were built with asbestos materials.
- Family members of workers and military personnel heavily exposed to asbestos at their jobs. There is evidence that exposure to asbestos fibers brought into the home on workers' shoes, clothing, skin, and hair can lead to an increased risk of developing mesothelioma cancer.
Asbestos Trust Fund Claims vs. Lawsuits
It has become common practice for companies who are engaged in asbestos distribution or use to set aside trust funds for those who may be injured by this product at a later time. This strategy attempts to shield these companies when they file for bankruptcy. This process of resolving asbestos cases is different from filing a lawsuit against the responsible party and involves distinct procedures.
While claimants may be able to receive payment relatively quickly through these claims, it’s likely they will not obtain compensation for the full scope of their injuries and pain and suffering. For this reason, seeking help through the guidance of a trusted mesothelioma cancer lawyer is highly recommended.
How Do I File A Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
It is essential that we commence your mesothelioma lawsuit as soon as possible, even if you are still seeking treatment. A lawyer with experience in asbestos litigation may be able to help you get the financial compensation you and your family deserve, but only if you act quickly.
- You must note the mesothelioma statute of limitations applicable to your jurisdiction. For instance, in Florida, an asbestos mesothelioma lawsuit must be filed within four years of receiving said diagnosis, or an Estate may file a lawsuit within two years of a decedent's death.
- As a victim, you are your own best witness to the harms and losses sustained due to mesothelioma. It is our paramount concern. We must preserve your testimony about how you were exposed to asbestos, when the symptoms first surfaced, and the course of events that followed.
- We aim for you to receive compensation as expeditiously as possible. This will help offset significant medical expenses and assist with your daily financial needs. We want to commence litigation quickly and retain the necessary experts to best position your case to reach a settlement if at all possible. If not, we are steadfast in our goal to set a trial date at the earliest opportunity.
Mesothelioma lawsuit settlements occur when the right experts are retained, and the case has been thoroughly prepared. A settlement offer is often commensurate with the future medical care necessary as a result of the objective medical documentation we will obtain and opinions provided by asbestos cancer experts.
What Can A Mesothelioma Lawyer Do For Me?
Perform a thorough investigation: Our legal team will investigate both the employment history and the surrounding area of all locations the victim previously resided at. We want to pinpoint where the mesothelioma victim may have been exposed to asbestos.
Gather all the necessary evidence: We will immediately seek all medical records and bills to demonstrate the extent of the disease and the exact stage the victim is in. Further, the objective medical documentation and bills will allow us to illustrate the harms and losses asbestos exposure has caused.
Retain the proper experts: Our goal is to retain the best experts at the first available opportunity to explain causation (how asbestos exposure caused the mesothelioma diagnosis) to the defendant, the applicable insurance carrier, defense lawyers and ultimately a Florida jury, if necessary.
Call Our Mesothelioma Lawyers Today!
If you are currently employed in blue-collar work or in one of the aforementioned professions and are experiencing mesothelioma symptoms, the first thing you should do is consult a health care provider – preferably, your primary care doctor. You should report your condition to your employer, so the insurance carrier is on notice. Continue seeking follow-up medical care and treatment for your condition regularly. It is important that you keep all of your medical records and bills, as well as any and all lost wage documentation.
The mass tort lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA may be able to file a workers' compensation or personal injury claim on your behalf and pursue the monetary compensation you may recover under the law.
Please call us today at (833) 700-MESO , or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with an experienced mesothelioma attorney at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA.
The Dolman Law Group works with local counsel in any jurisdiction outside Florida for the purpose of filing lawsuits in jurisdictions wherein we are not licensed. Thus, we will follow each State's ethical rules to ensure a local attorney is involved.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(833) 700-MESO