Legal Options For Victims & Families
We understand how painful it is to grieve for a loved one, especially when the cause of death was so preventable. But at the same time, your deceased loved one would want those responsible parties to pay for their callous disregard for safety measures.
In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations is 2 years from diagnosis or 2 years after death for wrongful death cases. Because of this short timeframe, it's important to act quickly if you plan to file a suit. When you feel ready to begin the fight for justice, our experienced mesothelioma and asbestos lawyers are ready to listen to your story and begin a plan of action in a free consultation.
How Does Exposure Happen?
Medical professionals discovered a relationship between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma back in the 1930s. However, industry leaders ignored this evidence and continued to use it. Although the federal government did pass laws limiting exposure in the 1970s, asbestos is still not banned in the US. While the use of this dangerous mineral has drastically declined, roughly 3,000 Americans are still diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, which means there are low levels in our air, water, and soil. These low levels are not enough to cause toxic exposure. Workers who are frequently in contact with asbestos are the most likely to contract a related disease, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer. Occasionally, families of these workers may be exposed when the worker unknowingly brings home asbestos fibers attached to his or her clothing at the end of the work day.
Industry officials knew about the dangers of asbestos exposure for over 40 years before any legislation was passed to limit it. It is absolutely disgusting that these leaders put business profits over the health of their workers. Decades later, thousands of families are forced to grieve for loved ones who have died from complications related to asbestos exposure. These families deserve to be compensated for the emotional and financial hardships they have endured.
Who Is Most At Risk?
Workers in various blue collar industries are in the most danger of contracting asbestos. Pennsylvania ranks 3rd in the US for mesothelioma and asbestos-related deaths. This should come as no surprise, as this state is a major player in many of the industries that have used high quantities of asbestos in the past.
PA imported large amounts of asbestos from Libby, Montana - a city with environmental disaster-level concentrations of toxic asbestos which has killed workers as well as residents.
Those who have worked in the following industries are at a particularly high risk:
- Coal mining
- Chemical and power plants
You don't need to be working with asbestos currently to be at risk. Mesothelioma has a delayed onset, and symptoms usually don't surface until 20 to 30 years after exposure. This latency period can last up to 50 years. The following Pennsylvania job sites have known asbestos exposure:
- Bethlehem Steel
- Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
- Penn Shipbuilding
- Key Highway Shipyard
- Pennsylvania Shipyard (Beaumont)
- Sun Shipbuilding
- Alcoa Aluminum
- USX Corporation
- Bethlehem Steel Shipyard
- LTV Steel
Anyone who has worked at one of these sites or another site with asbestos exposure is at risk of contracting this disease. Even if you've been retired for 20 years, symptoms could still surface today.
Most Commonly Affected Counties
While some may think of western PA as the hub of industrial production in Pennsylvania, many of the top ten counties for mesothelioma deaths from 1999 to 2013 are in southeastern PA and the greater Philadelphia area:
- Allegheny County (288 deaths)
- Philadelphia County (222)
- Montgomery County (205)
- Delaware County (165)
- Bucks County (123)
- Lancaster County (101)
- Berks County (74)
- Chester County (74)
- Luzerne County (63)
- Lehigh County (59)
Industrial workers have helped build the foundation of the American economy and allowed it to flourish for decades. There is absolutely no excuse for negligent companies continuing to use asbestos long after the first links to terminal illness were discovered in the 1930s. Victims and their surviving families deserve to be compensated for the emotional and financial difficulties they face after the untimely death of a loved one due to asbestos exposure.
What Are The Symptoms?
If you or a loved one has worked in any of these high-risk industries, keep a watchful eye for the common symptoms. Unfortunately, these symptoms usually don't surface until cancer has developed into stage III or IV. Symptoms vary case by case, but look out for:
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- General difficulty breathing
- Fluid in lungs
- Chest or abdomen pain
- Fevers and night sweats
- Muscle weakness
If you have ever been exposed to asbestos on a regular basis, we highly recommend seeing a physician and telling him or her about your history. He or she may schedule cancer screenings in an attempt to make an early diagnosis. By the time symptoms become noticeable, the disease has usually progressed to the point where it becomes terminal and incurable.