There are few feelings in life that are scarier or more stressful than shortness of breath and sharp pain in one’s chest and abdomen. With the advent of COVID-19, millions of Americans have unfortunately experienced this pain over the past year.
However, these symptoms could also be the result of a different condition with a much more traceable cause: mesothelioma, born from asbestos exposure. This combination could entitle victims to well-deserved compensation.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of malignant cancer, usually diagnosed in men aged 70-plus, that typically affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen, but is also found in the heart and testicles. It is considered rare because there are about 3,000 new cases diagnosed in the US each year. The most common symptoms include:
- Abdominal and chest pain
- Coughing or wheezing
- Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Fevers and night sweats
- Fluid buildup
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
The average life expectancy for those diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma is very poor, typically ranging between 12 to 21 months. It is more commonly seen among white men than other races (keep in mind this could also be the result of lack of medical resources and awareness).
How is it Treated?
There are currently four treatment options for malignant mesothelioma: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy; surgery is typically considered to be the most effective option depending on where the tumor is located and when it is found. However, only 10 to 20 percent of patients are candidates for surgery, and many experience surgical complications.
What Causes Mesothelioma?
There are multiple potential causes for malignant mesothelioma, including chronic pleural inflammation and therapeutic radiation for other maladies, but there has been sufficient evidence that a major risk factor in mesothelioma cases is exposure to asbestos, which is classified as a known human carcinogen.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is soft and fibrous. Its heat-resistant qualities make it ideal for insulation and other building materials. Today, asbestos is only permitted to be used in a product in the US if it accounts for less than 1 percent of its materials, but the substance was heavily used in the US up until about the mid-1970s.
Symptoms can take a long time to develop, oftentimes up to 10-50 years after exposure. This long incubation period is a major reason why most patients are over 70 years of age. Over time, trapped asbestos fibers cause inflammation, which can ultimately lead to genetic damage.
How Do I Know if I’m Eligible to File a Lawsuit?
Throughout the years, over 20 million workers have been exposed to asbestos in the course of their duties, and many could be entitled to compensation if diagnosed with mesothelioma.The following trades have been deemed especially at-risk:
- Shipbuilding trades and shipyard workers
- Insulation work in construction and demolition trades
- Drywall removers
- Military service members
- Steel mill and power plant workers
- Asbestos textile and asbestos product manufacturers
- Automobile workers
If a diagnosis is confirmed and there is reason to suspect it was related to work duties, the victim or immediate family members can file a Wrongful Death or Personal Injury claim against an asbestos trust. Please note that any claim must be filed within two years from the diagnosis or death of the victim.
What Do I Need to Compile?
Workers who are looking to file a claim need to obtain medical records that include a diagnosis– in the case of mesothelioma, radiological imaging is crucial in order to fully confirm a malignant tumor. It is extremely important to obtain this diagnosis as quickly as possible, in order to quickly form a case.
In addition to the medical records, victims must also provide employment documentation as well as testimony and details about the asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma victims can receive multiple types of compensation from a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death claim, including but not limited to: medical compensation including prescription costs, recuperation of lost wages and damage to future wages, and non-economic losses such as pain and suffering.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of mesothelioma and believe it could be a result of workplace negligence, be sure to first consult a medical professional. Then call Van Law Firm at (702) 529-1011. Our attorneys are well-versed in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death cases, and we will help get you the compensation you deserve.