Asbestos and Mesothelioma
Washington, DC draws countless United States citizens every year to move to a city filled with culture and history. Unfortunately, for those working in the construction industry, that beautiful history also comes with an added danger. Though more common in heavy industrial cities, many of the District of Columbia’s older buildings, including those on Capitol Hill, embassies, and public offices, were constructed before the United States restricted the use of asbestos in the early 1980s.
Due to this, those working construction in those days may have had repeated exposure to the toxic, cancer-causing substance. Even if you weren’t working in the late 1970s, if you’re currently in an industry where you demolish or renovate old building, you may still have been exposed to asbestos. If you or a loved one was recently diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer and you know you’ve worked at a contaminated job site, then reach out to Ashcraft & Gerel to consult with a Washington DC attorney.
You don’t have to face the medical expenses of your mesothelioma cancer treatment on your own. With a legal representative at your side, you can file an asbestos cancer lawsuit or settle out of court for the full cost of your medical bills, treatment, and prescriptions.
What is mesothelioma cancer?
This asbestos-related cancer is characterized by a thin layer of protective tissue that forms over the lungs and abdomen of those who have been exposed. In most cases, the asbestos has been inhaled while working at a construction or demolition site, so the tissue lines the lungs.
It’s important to note that the symptoms of mesothelioma can be so minor or mild that you may not recognize them for years until you reach the later stages of cancer where it is much more noticeable. These more severe symptoms include shortness of breath and noticeable weight loss. Other common symptoms include:
- Bowel obstruction
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dry cough
- Fluid buildup
- Pain near the area of the tumor
As a result of these delayed symptoms, even though the use of asbestos in construction materials was prohibited by the United States government in the early 1980s, there are still a number of workers in Washington DC and other more industrial areas of the US who are being diagnosed. In some cases, patients aren’t diagnosed by an oncologist until 20 years after they were initially exposed.
If you’ve worked at a Washington DC construction or demolition site and are now experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, reach out to your medical care provider as soon as possible. While there currently is no cure for mesothelioma cancer, but researchers have made progress in developing a number of treatment options designed to improve the patient’s quality of life and ease their overall symptoms.
In addition, seeking a diagnosis from your doctor as soon as possible also allows you to take the first step toward your asbestos cancer lawsuit or settlement. Once you’ve been properly diagnosed, you can work with a Washington, DC attorney to determine the best way for you to receive financial compensation for your treatment.
How can asbestos exposure lead to cancer?
Asbestos is a term applied to a group of fibrous materials that were first introduced to the United States during the Industrial Revolution. With the ability to withstand high temperatures, electrical discharges, and even fires, this material quickly became popular in the construction industry, being used for everything from building insulation to roofing shingles.
In the coming years, it was learned that these fibers can become trapped within the lining of the lungs when inhaled, and in some cases can become trapped and collect on the abdominal cavity or on the heart. Since it is difficult for the body to get rid these microscopic fibers once they are ingested, over time, they cause biological scarring and genetic damage that could lead to cancer.
Symptoms can be mild at first, and many people who worked construction in the past and in present day can be unaware that they were exposed. While repeated exposure is the most dangerous, inhaling these fibers for a short amount of time can still be dangerous.
Who is at risk of developing mesothelioma cancer?
It is now illegal to use asbestos for construction materials in the United States, however construction professionals who work in historic cities like Washington DC are still at risk of exposure, especially if they are assigned to repair or demolish old structures like offices, embassies, hotels, museums, or government buildings.
In addition, maintenance professionals on Capitol Hill who work in the underground tunnels could be at increased risk for developing mesothelioma. It wasn’t until 2006 that respirators were considered a requirement for working in the tunnels, and crew members who were on the job before then could have been exposed to nearly 40 times the legal limit of asbestos.
If you work in the construction or maintenance industry in Washington, DC and any of the above scenarios sound familiar from your work history, then you may be at risk for developing mesothelioma cancer. Following a proper diagnosis from your doctor, reach out to an asbestos cancer lawyer to discuss filing a lawsuit with your employer. You may be entitled to a financial award for your medical treatment, and a mesothelioma lawyer can help ensure you receive full and fair compensation for your damages.
Asbestos was also commonly used on warships and navy vessels prior to the 1980s, meaning there are a number of veterans who may have also been exposed to the toxic substance. They are considered to be one of the largest populations to have been exposed to asbestos, even more so than construction workers.
What should I do if I think I’ve been exposed to asbestos?
Construction and maintenance workers living in Washington DC should schedule an appointment with their doctors immediately if they suspect they’ve been exposed to asbestos while on the job. There are several tests the doctor can administer to check for malignant mesothelioma on your heart, lungs, or abdomen. These tests include:
- Imaging Scans: Your doctor will x-ray or perform a PET, CT or MRI scan to try and detect any abnormal growths.
- Biopsies: Your doctor may recommend a biopsy in order to inspect any sample tissue for cancer cells
Once it is confirmed that you are suffering from mesothelioma cancer, your oncologist will discuss your treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.
How can I receive compensation for my mesothelioma treatment?
An attorney experienced in asbestos cancer settlements and lawsuits can help you recover the compensation you and your family need to cover the cost of your treatment. This money can go toward any of the following:
- Medical bills and treatment
- Prescription costs
- Loss Wates
- Funeral expenses for wrongful death cases
Asbestos Cancer Settlements
For most circumstances, victims of mesothelioma can receive compensation without the need to go before a court. This is called a settlement, and it allows you to recover a financial reward without the time and money associated with a traditional hearing.
The first step to receiving compensation is filing a claim for your mesothelioma or asbestos-related illness. In most areas of the United States, there is a statute of limitations for when you can file a claim for personal injuries. In Washington, DC, this length of time is one year from the date your discover your illness. Once you’ve been diagnosed, you should reach out to a lawyer with a history of representing workers who have dealt with the effects of asbestos exposure. They can help you file a claim against the business or company responsible for allowing you to work in such dangerous conditions.
While your attorney has the experience and knowledge you need to ensure your claim includes the most pertinent information for your case, most claims traditionally include the following:
- Details for how you were exposed to asbestos
- How long you were exposed to asbestos
- The effect asbestos exposure has had on your health
As stated earlier, it takes time for the symptoms of mesothelioma to become noticeable. While you can still file a claim within a year after you’ve been diagnosed, memories fade over time, and you may not be able to recall the specific details of when you were exposed to the toxic material. With a legal representative at your side, you have someone with the resources you need to fully investigate your case and uncover the forgotten pieces of your story that could mean the difference between you winning your case or you having to shoulder the financial burden of your treatment on your own. In order to win your settlement, you’ll need the following:
- You’ll need to provide documentation that confirms your diagnosis of mesothelioma from a doctor
- Provide a complete record of all medical expenses for your diagnosis treatment
- If you were exposed while on the job, you would need occupational records that show you worked at a job site contaminated with asbestos
- If you were exposed to asbestos by using specific products or construction materials, you’ll also need to list those, as well
Historic Mesothelioma Trust Funds
Asbestos has a long history of being used for a number of construction sites and materials. Many of the businesses and manufacturers that produced products with asbestos in them have closed now, but that doesn’t mean that those who used these products on the job can’t receive compensation for their mesothelioma medical expenses.
More than $30 billion in trust fund money has been set aside to aid the victims of mesothelioma for workers who have been exposed to asbestos while working construction or maintenance jobs. There are different trust funds for each of these companies, and they have their own guidelines for determining eligibility. A asbestos and mesothelioma lawyer with experience in handling mesothelioma cancer cases in Washington, DC will be able to tell you which funds you may be eligible for and the criteria you’ll need to meet in order to be awarded.
Asbestos Cancer Lawsuits
Though it is the least common way to receive compensation for mesothelioma or asbestos-related illnesses, there are situations in which a settlement could not be reached and a case is brought before a Washington DC jury. Backed by the evidence gathered by your mesothelioma attorney, you could be awarded compensation for your medical expenses as well as punitive damages.
With that said, most companies are eager to settle any asbestos cancer claims outside of court to avoid the negative publicity of a lengthy trial. If they won’t negotiate a settlement and would prefer to present the case before a jury, it could mean that they suspect you don’t have enough evidence to support your claim, which is why they prefer the risk of a traditional trail. While a seasoned attorney can help ensure your case is as strong as possible, you should consult with one before your lawsuit to discuss the likelihood of receiving a favorable verdict based on the circumstances surrounding your case.
Mesothelioma Cancer Compensation for Veterans
Veterans who served on warships or navy vessels prior to the 1980s may have had extended exposure to asbestos, which means they, too, can be compensated for any resulting illnesses. Department of Veterans Affairs has a designated division for mesothelioma, so veterans may qualify for compensation as part of their disability benefits.
Consult with a Mesothelioma Attorney in Washington, DC to Discuss Your Case
The thought of getting into a legal battle after you’ve been diagnosed with an asbestos-related diseases can seem overwhelming. But you and your family don’t have to face this new battle alone. The mesothelioma cancer attorneys at Ashcraft & Gerel are experienced in supporting clients from start to finish of their claim. Whether you choose to settle outside a court, file an asbestos cancer lawsuit, or seek compensation from a mesothelioma trust fund, our asbestos lawyers can help make this process easier for you and your loved ones, giving you the sound legal advice you need to be confident in your decision to pursue a financial award.