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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - generally known as COPD - is currently the fourth cause of death among the U.S. population. It is primarily the consequence of tobacco smoking. However, exposure to carcinogenic agents in the workplace, including asbestos, has also been found to contribute to the development of COPD. As asbestos fibers are extremely toxic, they will gradually produce severe irritation and scarring to the lung tissue once inhaled. If you or a family member is struggling with COPD and has a history of occupational asbestos exposure, you might be eligible for financial compensation, which our specialized attorneys will gladly help you recover.

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COPD from Exposure to Carcinogenic Agents in the Workplace Results in 375,000 Deaths Worldwide Annually

A significant number of people with a history of occupational asbestos exposure develop COPD, which might lead to a more serious disease such as mesothelioma or lung cancer in the future. There are multiple studies supporting the high incidence of COPD among individuals who were exposed to airborne toxic agents on the job, including asbestos. A study conducted on 316,729 construction workers revealed a two and a half higher mortality rate from COPD in people who had been exposed to hazardous agents than in those with no history of toxic exposure.

Similarly to other diseases stemming from asbestos exposure, COPD will typically occur within several decades from the first contact with asbestos. The symptoms become increasingly severe over time and if the sufferer was heavily exposed to asbestos, there is a considerable risk of COPD later developing into a form of cancer, as asbestos fibers are more likely to cause tissue damage when the lungs are already weakened.

Common Signs and Symptoms of COPD and Asbestos Exposure

  • wheezing
  • difficulty breathing
  • swollen feet, ankles, or legs
  • tightness in the chest
  • unintentional weight loss
  • shortness of breath during physical activities
  • a productive cough
  • low muscle endurance
  • frequent respiratory infections

COPD by itself is a serious disease, with the majority of patients surviving between 12 and 18 years following diagnosis, depending on how severe their condition is. However, when it is triggered by asbestos exposure, the condition entails greater health risks, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer, whose symptoms are similar to those of COPD.

Today, approximately 15 million Americans suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, while 12 million others remain undiagnosed. The condition is currently the fourth cause of death throughout the country. There are two types of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The former entails the weakening of the air sacs of the lungs (alveoli), whereas the latter involves the inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes, which results in a persistent cough and increased mucus production. Both types of COPD decrease breathing capacity to a great extent. A series of factors can lead to the deterioration of the alveoli and the bronchial tubes, such as smoking, the rare genetic disorder known as alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, the inhalation of fumes released by burning fuel, as well as occupational asbestos exposure.

Our lungs are unable to expel asbestos fibers. Thereby, once they reach the inside of the organs, asbestos fibers will embed themselves in tissue, gradually irritating the area in question. Within 10 to 50 years, the damage inflicted by asbestos to the lungs may result in COPD, which often implies a combination of emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It is worthy of note that suffering from COPD as a consequence of workplace asbestos exposure makes you substantially more prone to developing malignant diseases such as lung cancer or pleural mesothelioma over the years.

The first symptom of COPD is usually a lingering, productive cough. In severe cases, blood can be found in the sputum expelled by the person who suffers from this condition. Shortness of breath is also common in the early phases of COPD. According to a 2015 survey, these are the U.S. states with the largest number of COPD patients:

  • West Virginia – 12%
  • Kentucky – 11.2%
  • Alabama – 9.9%
  • Arkansas – 9.1%
  • Tennessee – 8.9%
  • Oklahoma – 8.2%
  • Missouri – 7.9%
  • Indiana – 7.4%
  • Mississippi – 7.2%

Because COPD is insidious and symptoms are rarely experienced by people until it reaches advanced phases, we strongly advise individuals with a history of asbestos exposure – particularly smokers – to undergo a biannual medical examination, which will help prevent late detection in the unfortunate event the condition has developed. The most effective tests for detecting COPD include spirometry (a pulmonary function test which helps your specialist observe the volume and flow of air), X-rays, and computed tomography (CT scans). Blood tests may also be ordered to measure oxygen levels.

Although there is no treatment per se for COPD at the moment, the condition can be successfully kept under control with regular use of medication such as bronchodilators, anti-inflammatory medication, and steroids. In severe cases, oxygen therapy or machine-assisted respiratory therapy may be recommended.

If you have a history of asbestos exposure and you were a smoker, you CAN file a claim to recover compensation.

COPD Misdiagnosis and Asbestos Exposure Work History

Since the symptoms of diseases caused by asbestos exposure are often vague and resemble the signs of common lung conditions such as asthma and pneumonia, differentiating between COPD and another illness is extremely challenging, even for medical experts. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to seek the opinion of at least two specialists. Misdiagnosis is regrettably very widespread among victims of asbestos exposure, which is why it is best for your lungs to be evaluated by multiple pulmonologists, preferably some who specialize in asbestos-related diseases. By asking for the opinions of other medical experts, your chances of being assigned a wrong diagnosis will decrease considerably.

Not only will being told you suffer from another disease affect your prognosis, but it may also lead to recovering a smaller amount of money from asbestos trust funds than you are entitled to, as they base the compensation they pay out mainly on the severity of your diagnosis. Therefore, if you have, in fact, a more serious disease which your doctor failed to correctly identify, you will end up with significantly less money than you were actually eligible for. It is also important to keep in mind that, if your COPD ever develops into a malignant disease, you will have the right to file another asbestos claim for your new diagnosis.

Quality Legal Assistance for Asbestos Exposure Victims with COPD

If you struggle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and held down a job which involved handling or being surrounded by asbestos during the last century, you should take legal action as soon as possible, as you may be eligible for compensation from the asbestos trust fund of your former employer. With nearly 30 years of experience in asbestos litigation, our skilful attorneys and their resourceful legal team will carefully evaluate your case to determine whether you qualify for filing a claim. Should you be entitled to compensation, they will also attend to the most complex aspects of the legal process, as well as prepare and submit the necessary documents so that you will not have to stop focusing on your health and treatment. Until now, our law firm has recovered over $1.4 billion for asbestos victims and will eagerly aid you, too.

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Victims of Secondary Asbestos Exposure who Suffer from COPD Are Also Eligible for Compensation

Secondary asbestos exposure, which refers to indirect contact with the carcinogenic mineral, is the culprit behind approximately 10% of cases involving lung disease caused by asbestos. It was highly prevalent during the last century, usually occurring when women would launder their husbands’ asbestos-laden work clothes and when children would greet their fathers upon returning home from the job. While the risk of developing a serious disease following secondary asbestos exposure is lower than that implied by occupational exposure, numerous family members of former asbestos workers have come to suffer from COPD after regularly inhaling and ingesting toxic fibers in their own dwellings.

It is crucial to know that victims of secondary asbestos exposure who struggle with COPD may also be entitled to compensation from asbestos trust funds. Since the products manufactured by the company for which their family member would work at the time were in fact responsible for their diagnosis, they will receive money from the asbestos trust fund set up by the employer in question, should they meet the eligibility criteria. Nevertheless, the assistance of a lawyer with vast experience in asbestos litigation is essential, as cases involving secondary exposure are particularly challenging to pursue. A satisfactory outcome requires thorough evaluation, extensive research, as well as broad knowledge of this area of practice. Our lawyers have aided over 230,000 asbestos victims so far and are willing to help you, too. For additional information, do not hesitate to contact Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. and we will strive to achieve optimal results for your case.

If You Lost a Family Member Who Was Suffering from COPD as a Result of Asbestos Exposure, Our Attorneys Will Recover Compensation on Their Behalf

Numerous victims of asbestos exposure refuse to seek legal assistance during their lifetime for various reasons, from fear of a long process to believing they would not qualify for compensation. In the case of COPD, people are generally reluctant to file a claim because they think their illness is not severe enough to deserve financial compensation. However, oftentimes, a lawyer specialized in asbestos exposure cases would have been able to help them recover the money they deserved from one or multiple asbestos trust funds. If you have a loved one who has recently passed away due to COPD stemming from asbestos exposure, we encourage you to take legal action, as you may succeed in claiming the compensation they would have been entitled to.

With nearly 30 years of professional experience, our attorneys will gladly take over your case and strive to recover the maximum compensation possible on behalf of your departed family member. The only documents you will have to provide your lawyer with are their employment and medical records. Afterwards, supposing you are eligible for filing a wrongful death claim, they and their legal team will begin working on your case. Your involvement will be minimal, as we will handle the majority of aspects entailed by the legal process. Finally, it is important to keep in mind that the time you have to seek compensation is limited – the statute of limitation for wrongful death cases is between 1 and 3 years, depending on the state. Therefore, contacting a lawyer shortly after your family member passes away is vital to the success of your case.

How Do We Handle COPD Cases?

Over the past three decades, our law firm has received numerous requests for legal assistance from people struggling with COPD as a consequence of asbestos exposure. Although the process of recovering compensation on their behalf is significantly more challenging than claiming money for clients with more severe diagnoses, our attorneys are eager to take over your case if you suffer from this disease and go to great lengths to provide you with the financial benefits you deserve.

After you contact us and set up a consultation, we will proceed to the legal process, which typically consists in the following steps:

  • our experts conduct thorough research to discover additional information about your case, which might eventually grant you a larger sum of money
  • your lawyer prepares your asbestos claim and submits other necessary documents for you
  • the best type of claim submission will be chosen by your attorney, who will provide the board of trustees with your claim and sufficient evidence of your employment and diagnosis
  • within approximately 6 months, following claim approval, you will begin receiving your financial compensation from the asbestos trust fund in monthly installments

OUR LEGAL PROCESS IN A COPD CASE

A significant number of people with a history of occupational asbestos exposure develop COPD.