What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a disease where cells in the mesothelium become abnormal and divide without order or control. The cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and organs or spread to other areas of the body. Mesothelioma usually affects the pleura, the membrane that surrounds the lungs. This form of the disease is called pleural mesothelioma. The peritoneum can also be affected, which is known as peritoneal mesothelioma. It rarely begins in the pericardium.
Mesothelioma can be divided into three types:
Epithelioid mesothelioma has the best outlook and makes up 50% to 70% of all mesothelioma cases.
Decades ago, researchers connected the development of mesothelioma to crocidolite asbestos exposure in South African miners. Approximately 70% to 90% of patients who develop mesothelioma have some prior asbestos exposure commonly through work. Mesothelioma cases tend to come from those working near or in shipyards and plants that produce asbestos products.
In the United States, approximately 2,000 to 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed annually. Men are more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma than women, although the gap is closing. Before regulations concerning asbestos were established, workers carried home asbestos fibers on their clothing, exposing their family members as well. In addition, those living or working near asbestos-related operations can be exposed to asbestos released into the environment. One study found that living close to these areas can significantly heighten the chance of developing mesothelioma. The risk of developing mesothelioma increases with age as well as the increased duration and intensity of exposure to asbestos.
What Causes Mesothelioma?
People who have been exposed to asbestos are the most likely to develop mesothelioma. Approximately 70% to 80% of mesothelioma patients have worked with asbestos. However, some patients have had no known exposure.
Tobacco usage alone does not increase the risk of developing mesothelioma. However, smokers who are exposed to asbestos have an increased risk of lung cancer.
Is Mesothelioma Common?
Mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer. While other cancer diagnoses have increased considerably over the past quarter-century (over 1/4 of the U.S. population will suffer from some type of cancer in their lifetime), mesothelioma is still not common. Around 3,000 new cases are reported in the U.S. every year, with most patients being older men. However, women are also known to suffer from mesothelioma, which can occur at any age.
Who is at Risk of Mesothelioma?
People working in construction, building, demolition, or in the making of heating products have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma. The length of asbestos exposure and the intensity of the exposure determines the risk of developing this disease. However, there have been cases where the patient had little or no asbestos exposure. Likewise, not all people who are exposed to asbestos develop mesothelioma.
The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set safety requirements and limits for asbestos exposure in the workplace. People working with asbestos are required to have protective equipment. In addition, asbestos workers are generally required to shower and change clothes before returning home. This requirement protects the families of asbestos workers who can be exposed to the asbestos fibers on the worker's clothing or hair.
What are Common Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma symptoms typically do not develop until decades after initial asbestos exposure. Additionally, many mesothelioma symptoms are similar to less serious conditions. However, if you experience any of the symptoms listed below, see a doctor immediately:
- Shortness of breath
- Unusual weight loss
- Chest pain, especially after exertion
- Bowel obstruction
- Abdominal pain
- Anemia (unusual fatigue and listlessness)
- Abnormal blood clotting or excessive bleeding
If it has spread, you may also feel neck or facial pain and have trouble swallowing.
Diagnosing mesothelioma can be difficult. Typically, a doctor will conduct a complete physical exam, which will include x-rays of the abdomen and chest and a respiratory function test. X-rays may be replaced with advanced techniques such as an MRI or CAT scan.
If the doctor has concerns, he or she will refer you to a cancer specialist, also known as an oncologist. The cancer specialist will perform a biopsy by taking a tissue sample from your abdomen or chest. This sample will be examined under a microscope. If the pathologist finds mesothelioma, the oncologist will need to establish whether the disease is localized or has spread.
What is Mesothelium?
The mesothelium is a membrane covering and protecting most of the body's internal organs. The mesothelium contains two layers of cells, with one surrounding the organ and the other forming a sac around it. The mesothelium creates a lubricating fluid which is released between these layers allowing moving organs, such as the lungs and heart, to glide easily against nearby structures. The mesothelium has different names, depending on its location in the body:
- The peritoneum is the mesothelial tissue that covers most organs in the abdominal cavity
- The pleura is the membrane surrounding the lungs and lining the wall of the chest cavity
- The pericardium covers and protects the heart
- The mesothelial tissue surrounding the male internal reproductive organs is called the tunica vaginalis testis
- The tunica serosa uteri cover the internal reproductive organs in women
What Treatment is Available for Mesothelioma?
Treatment of mesothelioma depends on the stage of the disease. Surgery is normally performed if the cancer is localized. The oncologist, or cancer specialist, will extract the affected part of the chest lining and nearby tissue. If the pleura is affected, a lung and part of the diaphragm may need to be removed. Radiation therapy can also be used. This procedure uses targeted ionizing radiation to kill malignant cells. If the cancer has spread, a doctor will most likely use chemotherapy, which utilizes anti-cancer medications. To relieve pain and other symptoms, a doctor will insert a tube to drain fluid from the abdomen or chest.
What Mesothelioma Research is Being Done?
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) currently sponsors clinical trials that attempt to find new treatments and improve existing ones. If you want to participate, consult with your doctor and call 1-800-4CANCER. For more information, visit http://www.cancer.gov to locate news on clinical trials and a catalog of relevant publications.
How Does Asbestos Lead to Mesothelioma?
Small asbestos fibers can be easily inhaled by workers. Inflammation occurs when the body attempts to break down and eliminate these particles from the lungs.
The particles can reach the smallest and most distant parts of the lungs. These fibers cannot be removed by coughing unless they attach to mucus in the air passages. They can also remain in the tissue around the chest or stomach cavity, where they cause inflammation and lead to mesothelioma.
Asbestos particles can damage the lungs by forming scar tissue. Those who have been exposed to asbestos have a seven times greater risk for developing lung cancer than those who have not been exposed. The three causes of death for those with significant asbestos exposure are mesothelioma, lung cancer, and lung scarring (aka asbestosis).
Does Asbestos Cause Mesothelioma?
The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. In the United States, most cases of mesothelioma are related to asbestos exposure. There are several types of asbestos, but asbestos can broadly be described as a fibrous mineral that has been used in numerous industrial products.
Some asbestos products include brake lining, insulation, and roofing materials. When workers use these products, they may be exposed to asbestos dust. Workers can breathe airborne asbestos fibers, which then become lodged in the lungs. These tiny fibers can work their way through the lungs and into the membrane surrounding the lungs. The asbestos fibers can irritate the mesothelium or peritoneum, eventually causing cancerous cells to develop.
Do I Need a Mesothelioma Attorney?
Many companies were aware of the hazards of asbestos exposure but continued to risk the health of their employees by failing to take steps to protect their workers. As a result, former employees who later develop mesothelioma may be eligible for financial compensation from the employer or other parties responsible for the asbestos exposure. It is essential that you obtain representation from a knowledgeable mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible. The Serling & Abramson Asbestos and Mesothelioma Law Firm can file a claim on your behalf to help you get the compensation you deserve to cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Mesothelioma is a terrible disease that leaves little hope for the future of its victims. A mesothelioma lawyer can help by recommending the best course of legal action to obtain the compensation you and your family deserve and need. To learn more about your legal options, trust a dedicated asbestos and mesothelioma lawyer.
Mesothelioma Legal Information
A diagnosis of any asbestos-related disease is not only emotionally exhausting but financially draining as well. A mesothelioma lawsuit can help fund treatment options and assure financial security for a family's future. It is important to file a mesothelioma claim quickly because the statutes of limitations can prevent you from seeking proper compensation.
After receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis, seek medical care and an emotional support network. It is important to get quality healthcare to manage physical symptoms and emotional grief.
After receiving expert medical care, contact a mesothelioma lawyer who is knowledgeable about asbestos litigation and can make a negligent industry liable for their greed. If you win your mesothelioma lawsuit, it can help pay medical bills and ensure the family's financial future. A mesothelioma attorney knows how to prove a victim's asbestos exposure history, which is needed for a successful mesothelioma lawsuit.
Establishing a link between a person's mesothelioma and asbestos exposure is not easy. This is why it's crucial to hire an experienced mesothelioma attorney, who will understand:
- Asbestos product identification
- Asbestos-related medical issues
- Statutes of limitations
When someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma, the last thing on their mind is legal logistics. However, a mesothelioma lawsuit can only be filed within a certain period of time, known as the statute of limitations. It is important to file a mesothelioma claim quickly to help pay for medical bills and ensure the family's financial future. An intelligent and compassionate mesothelioma attorney can help you seek the compensation needed to help you and your family.
It has been proven that asbestos manufacturers knew of the material's health hazards in the 1920s, but decided collectively to keep this knowledge from the public for more than 50 years. Eventually, after government intervention and public uproar, the asbestos industry is negotiating settlements with mesothelioma victims.
Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit
Decades ago, when manufacturers and users of asbestos became aware of its dangers, many companies made a selfish and costly mistake. These companies continued to use asbestos, ignored its health effects, and allowed workers to breathe in asbestos fibers on a daily basis.
Mesothelioma usually takes decades after the asbestos exposure before it manifests itself. Because of the disease's long latency period, people who were exposed to asbestos forty or fifty years ago are now developing mesothelioma. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the company that was responsible for your asbestos exposure.
Fortunately, many attorneys specialize in mesothelioma litigation and have been successful in obtaining substantial settlements for their clients. Most mesothelioma attorneys will only take a small fee if they secure compensation for the mesothelioma victims.
Because of statutes of limitations, mesothelioma patients must file a claim after diagnosis. Because of this time limit, it is vital to contact a mesothelioma law firm immediately. If your loved one has already passed away because of mesothelioma, different rules apply. However, the mesothelioma claim must still be filed quickly, so contact a mesothelioma lawyer today.
If you suffer from respiratory problems and have a family member who worked with asbestos, you may also have grounds for a mesothelioma claim. In many cases, employees who worked with asbestos tracked home asbestos fibers on their clothes and hair. These family members may have developed an asbestos-related disease from this small exposure.
Whether you are a mesothelioma patient, a family member with an asbestos-related disease, or an individual seeking justice on behalf of a deceased loved one, it is vital to file a mesothelioma claim as soon as possible. You will need to discuss your legal options with your mesothelioma lawyer. The law firm may also hire an investigator to determine where and when someone came into contact with asbestos.
Many mesothelioma attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means they will receive a percentage of your final settlement so you do not need to worry about paying your attorney if you do not win the case. By consulting with an experienced mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible, you can discuss your legal rights and options.
Asbestos laws allow those with mesothelioma or asbestos-related diseases to seek compensation. These laws are comprised of state and federal statutes that regulate household and workplace asbestos exposure. Asbestos laws provide protection to those who have experienced the harmful side effects of asbestos. Exposure to this material can cause scar tissue in the lungs (asbestosis) and mesothelioma. Even people exposed to asbestos in the 1940s may still develop deadly, asbestos-related diseases.
The Occupational and Safety Health Administration enforces asbestos laws that protect workers. Asbestos laws determine the level of asbestos permitted in the workplace. The law allows 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter during an 8-hour work period and one fiber per cubic centimeter in any 30 minute period. Employers must also make routine exposure monitoring and create regulated work areas. They must also supply all employees with respiratory equipment, protective clothing, asbestos safety training, regular health examinations, and proper hygiene facilities.
In many cases, mesothelioma victims are entitled to compensation because cancer could have been prevented. The companies that did not protect their employees are at fault. Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos fibers, which are breathed into the system and damage the mesothelium, a lining that covers most organs. The disease has a long latency period and people do not realize they have mesothelioma until decades later.
The Serling & Abramson team is available to help victims of mesothelioma seek compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering. Mesothelioma compensation can also provide financial security for the victim's family. Those suffering from mesothelioma should seek legal advice as soon as they are diagnosed. Many states allow for only a certain period of time to file a lawsuit. A mesothelioma lawyer will need time to put together your case and conduct research. Many mesothelioma attorneys only receive a contingency fee, which is a percentage of your settlement should you win. If the case is lost, the lawyer will not take any money.
Due to the increase in mesothelioma diagnoses, many law firms and lawyers deal specifically with mesothelioma cases. Mesothelioma law firms aim to get compensation for mesothelioma victims and their families.
If you are looking for legal help relating to mesothelioma or asbestos, first locate a lawyer experienced in mesothelioma litigation. An experienced attorney has connections to resources and groups that could help your case run smoothly.
However, keep in mind that many states set a time limit for mesothelioma claims to be filed within. These statutes of limitations are often 12 to 24 months after a diagnosis. Family members may also file claims but must do so within this time limit of 12 to 24 months after your loved one's death.
When you consult with a mesothelioma lawyer, you can discuss the details of your case and your legal options. It is impossible to determine whether a mesothelioma lawsuit will be won. However, if you contact a lawyer quickly and provide them with detailed, truthful information, you can increase your chances of filing a successful claim.
Mesothelioma litigation offers several options depending on the case. Some options for filing a claim as part of mesothelioma litigation include:
- Product Liability
- Professional Malpractice
- Worker Compensation
- Wrongful Death
Mesothelioma Statute of Limitations
A lawsuit filed on behalf of an individual who has developed mesothelioma cancer due to exposure to asbestos is called a mesothelioma claim. Mesothelioma claims are filed against the party, usually a corporation, who is responsible for the victim's harmful exposure to asbestos. Defendants in mesothelioma claims can be employers, government organizations, asbestos removal professionals, manufacturers, or other parties whose negligence resulted in the asbestos exposure.
If a victim of mesothelioma has passed away, a claim can still be filed by a family member. Mesothelioma claims are usually filed to allow the victim or loved one's compensation for loss of income, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
When filing a mesothelioma claim, it is important to do it as soon as possible. Many states have a statute of limitations which places a time limit within which the claim must be filed. In most mesothelioma cases, this time period begins when the person receives the diagnosis. However, these statutes vary from state to state, so it is important to find out the laws that apply to your mesothelioma claim.
As the number of mesothelioma diagnoses increases, more lawsuits are being brought against companies responsible for exposure to asbestos. Because of this increase, many lawyers who handle mesothelioma claims are available. Settlement amounts vary between cases, but mesothelioma attorneys aim to make these companies liable for the pain and suffering of mesothelioma victims.
The process of filing a mesothelioma claim is relatively simple. However, many states set a time limit for these claims to be filed. If they are not filed within your state's statute of limitations, you will not be able to seek compensation. Family members of mesothelioma patients that have passed away can also file a claim on their behalf, but these also must be done with the statute of limitations.
First, locate a mesothelioma lawyer or law firm that has experience litigating mesothelioma claims. Experienced mesothelioma attorneys already have contacts in the field that can help your case run smoothly.
Many people are hesitant to file mesothelioma claims because of the assumed cost. However, most mesothelioma lawyers are only paid a contingency fee, which is a percentage of your mesothelioma settlement. This means they are not paid until you get compensated. No upfront payment is required, and if you do not win the case, you do not pay anything.
When you have located an attorney whose fees you are comfortable with, you will explain the details of your case. Your lawyer will need to know the following:
- Type of mesothelioma
- Whether the disease can be treated
- The date you were diagnosed
- Whether you know your disease is terminal
- Where and when you were exposed to asbestos
If you cannot remember where or when you were exposed to asbestos, your lawyer will pay for an investigator to discover this information.
Based upon these details, the mesothelioma attorney will decide if your claim is worth pursuing. If it is, the attorney will decide what type of lawsuit should be filed.
Recovery amounts in mesothelioma settlements vary considerably. How much a mesothelioma victim will receive as compensation will be determined by a variety of factors, including:
- The laws in your state
- The parties responsible
- Lost income
- The extent of your injuries
- How well the case is presented
- The likely verdict value
- The credibility of the injured party
- Where the case is tried
- The reputation of the attorneys
Decisions of compensation involve economic damages such as:
- All medical costs
- Lost employment income
- Lost future income
There are also non-economic damages that are considered. These are “pain and suffering” damages. They are damages paid for:
- Physical pain
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
Because this can be very subjective and every case is different, there is no way to tell what a jury will award in this category, but the figure can be quite significant, especially if continued medical treatment is necessary. In many states, there is no limit to non-economic damages in lawsuits, although that is changing.
The amount given in mesothelioma settlements varies between cases and states. Besides the damage that mesothelioma has caused a patient, the main factor that determines the amount of the settlement is the state, region, and political atmosphere. For example, during the 1980s and 1990s, many mesothelioma lawsuits were being filed. During these two decades, the United States political climate was very favorable to patients.
Since then, the political climate has changed. For example, a reform bill in Texas requires neutral medical tests for all asbestos-related diseases. Georgia also makes the plaintiff responsible to prove mesothelioma was caused by asbestos. These bills were signed in the 1990s after the controversy began over mesothelioma lawsuits being misused by patients and lawyers for exaggerated claims. However, there seems to be no problem for legitimate cases of mesothelioma. There is no average amount or gauge for determining mesothelioma settlements. The outcome depends on the negligence of the defendant and damage to the plaintiff. Some courts may also refer to previous settlements to determine the settlement.
Asbestos Exposure in Michigan
Michigan is part of what's known as the "Rust Belt" of the U.S. and tends to have a higher amount of asbestos exposure and a greater risk of mesothelioma to its residents than other states. According to the CDC, our great state has an above-average mesothelioma death rate of roughly 9.3 people per million annually, with the upper peninsula having a higher mortality rate and the lower peninsula having a higher population density with more mesothelioma cases. Why is this? Well, it's likely due to the 9 known asbestos mines and natural deposits in Michigan and the widespread use of asbestos from the early 1900s until the late 1900s in common Michigan industries.
So far, Michigan is ranked 10th in the United States for mesothelioma and asbestosis deaths, with over 1,300 mesothelioma deaths and over 200 asbestosis deaths. Sadly, these numbers are expected to see an increase within the next 20-40 years since these diseases have such a long latency period.
Known cities where asbestos exposure has been discovered in the general community include:
- Grand Rapids
- Ann Arbor
Known cities where work sites containing asbestos are located include:
- Ann Arbor
- Battle Creek
- Bay City
- Benton Harbor
- Big Rapids
- Boyne City
- East Lansing
- Filer City
- Grand Blanc
- Grand Haven
- Grand Rapids
- Harbor Beach
- Highland Park
- Lincoln Park
- Madison Heights
- Marine City
- Mount Clemens
- Mount Pleasant
- Oak Park
- Port Huron
- River Rouge
- Royal Oak
- Saint Clair
- Saint Joseph
- Sault Saint Marie
- South Haven
- Stoney Creek
- Traverse City
- West Olive
- White Pine
Key Industries That Contribute to Asbestos Exposure in Michigan
Michigan is a very industrialized state, and given the nature of the key industries, it has been exposed to high concentrations of asbestos for generations. The key industries that are represented in Michigan include:
- Automotive Industry: Detroit, Michigan has been the epicenter of the United States automotive industry for over a century, thanks to Henry Ford founding Ford Motor Company in the city. These automobile plants (including Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Plymouth, Hudson Motor Car Corp, and Continental Motor Company) are very asbestos-heavy and they represent the vast majority of asbestos exposure sites in Michigan.
- Shipbuilding Industry: Michigan has the largest inland coastline in the country and provides a lot of space that can be used for shipbuilding. There are two known shipyards in Michigan where shipbuilders may have been exposed to asbestos: Eldean Shipyard and Defoe Shipyard.
- Steel Industry: To support the automotive industry, Michigan has a large number of steel mills, metalworking shops, and foundries. These all have widely used asbestos, exposing steelworkers to the dangers it holds. Known job sites where asbestos exposure could have happened include the Michigan Steel Foundry, National Steel, the Great Lakes Steel Mill, and the Detroit Grey Iron Foundry.
- Oil Industry: Michigan doesn't have a large oil industry, but it does have a good number of oil refineries and distribution hubs that are required to keep up with its industrial needs. Due to the volatile nature of oil, a lot of asbestos was used to prevent fires within these structures. Known oil companies in Michigan that could have exposed workers to asbestos include Consolidated Oil, Citrin Oil, Marathon Oil, and the synthetic liquid gas plant in Marysville.
- Power Industry: Power plants were commonly lined with asbestos throughout the United States in the 1900s, and Michigan was no exception. Power plants that are known to have contained asbestos include the Northern Michigan Electric Cooperative, Detroit Edison, and Central Michigan Light and Power Company. Nuclear plants that are known to have contained asbestos include Bridgeman Nuclear Plant, Cook Nuclear Power Plant, and Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant, among others.
Smaller industry job sites represented in Michigan that may have exposed the community and workers to asbestos include:
- Chemical Plants
- Vermiculite Plants
There have been record-breaking verdicts for asbestos lawsuits brought forth in Michigan, especially relating to asbestos exposure in the automotive industry. The first asbestos brake linings were made in 1906 in the United States and it was commonly used after that until the early 1990s when a decline began to occur.
Asbestos Deposits and Imports in Michigan
There are five areas in Michigan that are naturally occurring deposits of asbestos:
- Iron Mountain
Large amounts of asbestos fibers were brought into Michigan with vermiculite for processing. It's known that at least 163,000 tons of asbestos-contaminated vermiculite was brought to Michigan by W.R. Grace Company, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. All of the facilities that processed the vermiculite exposed entire communities to asbestos dust, including the following cities:
- Grand Rapids
- Reed City
- River Rouge
W.R. Grace Company eventually filed for bankruptcy after thousands of asbestos lawsuits were brought against them.