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Can I apply for asbestos compensation as a former industrial worker?

Because asbestos was highly prevalent in numerous industries during the last century, former industrial workers who developed a disease as a result of asbestos exposure are eligible for compensation.

answered by Gregory A. Cade

Over 75 occupational groups were exposed to asbestos during the last century

By virtue of the numerous convenient properties it has, asbestos was present in tremendous amounts in multiple industries between 1920 and 1980, when proper regulations concerning asbestos use finally came into effect. Exposure to asbestos can lead to terrible diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma within 20 to 50 years, as these diseases have a long latency period during which asbestos fibers in the body attach themselves to various organs and tissues and gradually cause inflammation and scarring. Despite knowing about the serious health effects of asbestos exposure, the majority of companies who were using it continued to do so, thereby endangering the lives of their employees. According to the Environmental Working Group, between 12,000 and 15,000 people lose their lives to diseases caused by occupational asbestos exposure every year in the United States. Furthermore, 20% of former industrial workers will develop a disease as a consequence of asbestos exposure at one point during their lifetime.

What diseases can asbestos exposure cause?

Since asbestos is a known human carcinogen, exposure is responsible for numerous diseases, most of which affecting the lungs. Asbestos exposure occurs when a person inhales or ingests asbestos fibers from the air which, in industrial facilities, would be released by various work activities. However, because asbestos fibers are microscopic, they can easily travel through the bloodstream to other organs and tissues in the body, where they will slowly produce serious damage over the decades. Every year, nearly 40,000 people die of a disease caused by occupational asbestos exposure.

The following are the diseases, which can stem from occupational asbestos exposure. It is important to keep in mind that you can only seek financial compensation for some of these diseases, as there is no definitive causal relation between certain diseases and asbestos exposure.

Regardless of the diagnosis you have, asbestos fibers must be present in your lungs in order to qualify for compensation from asbestos trust funds. If you were exposed to asbestos in industrial settings, the asbestos fibers in your lungs will be visible on a simple chest X-ray. For instance, people who have a gastrointestinal cancer diagnosis which is the result of asbestos exposure also need to have asbestos fibers in their lungs to become eligible for compensation, as solid proof of exposure is necessary to file a claim. Nevertheless, in the majority of cases, former industrial workers who came to struggle with a disease, which affects other organs than the lungs will have asbestos fibers in their lungs, as their exposure was prolonged and heavy.

What industries exposed their workers to asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is resistant to fire, electricity, and various chemicals and, because it was also cheap, numerous industries decided to use it for the manufacturing of products as a raw material or to perform certain work activities. By 1973, manufacturers used asbestos in over 3,000 different products. The following are only some of the occupational groups at the highest risk of developing a disease as a result of workplace exposure:

  • construction workers – asbestos would be used by construction companies to enhance the durability and fire resistance of various products, such as cement, and construction workers would have to handle asbestos directly, without adequate protective equipment
  • boilermakers – because boilers can easily reach extreme temperatures, asbestos was employed to reduce the risk of fire and was present in many components of boilers, such as insulation, gaskets, sealants, paper, cement, and rope
  • power plant workers – due to the fact that asbestos has extraordinary electrical insulation properties, it would often be present in power plants across the country to ensure the machinery and equipment of the facilities would not catch fire
  • asbestos products manufacturers – people who worked in this industry also handled asbestos without protective equipment, which was used for the manufacturing of various products, such as automotive components or construction materials, and, combined with the poor ventilation of such facilities, exposure was bound to occur to a great extent
  • chemical plant workers – asbestos was often used by chemical manufacturers and processors as insulation for equipment and pipes but was also employed because it is resistant to various chemicals
  • miners – miners who were digging for talc and vermiculite would be heavily exposed to asbestos, as these mineral occur in close proximity to asbestos in the earth and workers were not provided with the protective equipment they needed
  • shipyard workers – the military, particularly the Navy, is notorious for having employed enormous amounts of asbestos for shipbuilding, which is why today, 30% of veterans struggle with a disease as a consequence of asbestos exposure, but shipyard workers are equally at risk since they would often handle asbestos in the absence of protective equipment
  • insulators – during the last century, asbestos was the primary raw material used for insulating buildings and products, which places insulators at high risk of developing a terrible disease as a result of occupational asbestos exposure
  • oil refinery workers – in oil refineries, asbestos would be present mostly in the form of boiler- and pipe insulation, which was very friable, thereby leading to heavy exposure
  • electricians – as asbestos is resistant to electricity, it was lurking in numerous electrical components, products, and equipment, which electricians would maintain and repair without protective equipment
  • paper mill workers – the majority of the equipment used to manufacture paper was insulated with asbestos and paper mills were poorly ventilated, which inevitably led to significant exposure among employees
  • tile setters – many joint compounds had asbestos as a filler material which, when they dried, could easily release asbestos fibers in the air, therefore exposing workers who were responsible for tile setting
  • steel mill workers – serving as a fireproofing and insulating material, asbestos was frequently present in the facilities where steelworkers would perform their job, which unavoidably resulted in considerable exposure

Nonetheless, the number of industries, which exposed their workers to asbestos during the last century is actually larger, but the above occupational groups have the highest risk of developing a disease as a consequence of workplace asbestos exposure. If you were exposed to asbestos while working in one of these industries or another and developed a related disease, you are eligible for compensation from asbestos trust funds, which were established by asbestos companies that filed for bankruptcy due to the increasing number of former employees who came to struggle with a disease due to occupational asbestos exposure.

Our attorneys can help former industrial workers recover the compensation they deserve

With 30 years of professional experience, our attorneys specialize in toxic exposure cases, having recovered compensation for thousands of former industrial workers injured by occupational asbestos exposure. The majority of our clients are victims of asbestos exposure. If you suffer from a disease, which occurred as a result of workplace asbestos exposure, please reach out to our law firm and we will gladly help you recover the financial compensation you deserve from your former employers. In the unfortunate event that you were exposed to asbestos by more than one company, we will file a claim with all the asbestos trust funds of the employers responsible for your suffering, which will result in obtaining the maximum amount of compensation you qualify for.

It is important to know that asbestos exposure cases have a statute of limitations of 3 years in the majority of states which, if it expires, you will no longer be eligible for compensation. Therefore, you should take legal action as soon as you receive your diagnosis. Your involvement in the legal process, which is very complex, will be minimal, as you will only need to provide our attorneys with your employment and medical records after you thoroughly explain your situation. Lastly, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you do not have to pay our attorneys anything unless they recover compensation for you.

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