Recently Diagnosed with Mesothelioma? We Can Help
Mesothelioma cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos companies, manufacturers, distributors, and employers may be responsible for exposing you to asbestos and causing your cancer. Our experienced mesothelioma attorneys are here to help you and your family. Call today for a Free Consultation 1-877-943-9378.
About Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuits in West Virginia
Mesothelioma is a preventable cancer because it is only caused by asbestos exposure. Evidence shows negligent companies were often aware of the presence of asbestos in their workplaces and of the risks and dangers it presented to employees. However, some employers continued exposing employees to asbestos without warning employees and without ensuring mandated, protective, precautionary measures were instituted.
Documented occupational asbestos exposure has been found for 51 companies in West Virginia. These companies include the following Charleston area job sites: Barium Reduction, Cecil Walker Machinery, Dupont Chemical, Fike Chemical, FMC Ordnance, General Electric, Gordon Gasket and Packing Company, Ingersoll Rand, Monsanto, Norfolk Southern Railroad, P & H Minepro Services Appalachia, Union Carbide Mines, and Vimasco Corporation.
Contrary to the national trend, in Kanawha County, West Virginia, asbestos claim filings actually increased from 2016 to 2017, and we are among the top ten counties in the nation for asbestos litigation, according to an industry report. Managing such a large number of asbestos personal injury lawsuits is a complicated endeavor. The West Virginia’s Supreme Court of Appeals directs this mass litigation to the Circuit Court of Kanawha County where procedures for filing asbestos cases are under the Mass Litigation Panel (MLP) Asbestos Case Management Order.
The MLP requires plaintiffs to report their work history, smoking history, medical providers, and benefits in what is called the “Plaintiff Fact Sheet”. In an efforts to streamline case scheduling, the Asbestos Case Management Order follows a case consolidation process. Currently, cases are consolidated into groups of 20 cases having similar medical severity, punitive damages, disclosures, and deadlines, and the courts will schedule 3 of these trial groups each year.
As you can see above, having an experienced attorney, like us at West Law Firm, by your side every step of the way will ease the stress of the process and help ensure you recover full and fair compensation. Our missing is to provide mesothelioma sufferers and their families caring service and outstanding financial results as we guide them through this process.
What Compensation is Available from Mesothelioma Asbestos Lawsuits?
Patients diagnosed with asbestos-related mesothelioma typically have a right to file a lawsuit against companies responsible for exposing them to asbestos, which, under West Virginia product liability law, includes sellers, distributors and manufacturers of the asbestos that caused the mesothelioma.
There are two types of asbestos lawsuits: personal injury and wrongful death. When a personal injury lawsuit is filed by a person with a mesothelioma diagnosis, compensation is generally based on the following:
- Past and future wage loss
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Past and future loss of capacity to earn money
- Past and future loss of enjoyment of life
- Punitive damages, intended to deter future wrongful conduct, when appropriate
When a wrongful death claim is pursued by the estate or family of the person who lost their life due to asbestos related mesothelioma or lung cancer, common damages include:
- Mental Anguish
- Loss of society
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of comfort, guidance, and advice.
The second type of damages is the financial loss caused by the wrongful death. According to West Virginia law, compensable damages shall include but are not limited to the following:
- Compensation for reasonably expected loss of income of the decedent
- Compensation for the loss of services, protection, care and assistance that would have been likely provided by the decedent
- Expenses for the care, treatment and hospitalization of the decedent related to his/her injury resulting in death
- Reasonable funeral expenses
For a complete discussion of the types of compensation available for wrongful death lawsuits in West Virginia, see our previous article “How a West Virginia Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works”
How Asbestos Exposure Causes Mesothelioma
Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of all types of mesothelioma. About 3,000 new mesothelioma cases are diagnosed each year mostly due to asbestos exposure in the workplace, according to the National Cancer Institute. Asbestos is a known, classified human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) by the U.S. Department of Human Services, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
When asbestos materials are disturbed, as is common to various work settings where safety rules are not followed, the tiny fibers are easily released into the air. If inhaled or ingested, asbestos fibers can cause chronic inflammation, scarring, and cellular damage to DNA which can ultimately lead to tumor formations across a protective membrane known as the mesothelium.
The mesothelium membrane is a cellular layer covering many of our internal organs. When someone has a mesothelioma diagnosis, cancerous cells are present in this protective membrane, and the diagnosis name refers to the specific organ affected. A diagnosis common to asbestos exposure in the workplace is Pleural Mesothelioma where cancerous cells are found within the protective membrane around the lungs and within the chest wall lining. Also linked to workplace exposure is Peritoneal Mesothelioma where cancer affects the membrane protecting organs in the abdominal cavity.
Medical experts have two theories for how asbestos fibers actually reach the abdominal cavity: ingestion and lymphatic transport. Asbestos fibers can be swallowed directly, but it is also possible for inhaled fibers to be coughed up from the lungs and then swallowed. Others propose movement from the lymphatic system actually transports the asbestos from the lungs into the abdominal organs where fibers become lodged in the peritoneum.
Regardless, asbestos fibers are a known cause of inflammation and irritation which can result in cancerous tumors. Potentially, cells from a cancerous tumor can break away, enter the bloodstream and spread malignant Mesothelioma to other parts of the body as well.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
Asbestos-related illness is typically discovered 20 to 50 years after exposure, and the average age for diagnosis for pleural mesothelioma (in the chest) is 72 yrs old. According to the American Cancer Society, once someone is exposed to asbestos, cancer appears to be a life long risk. The potential for developing mesothelioma does not diminish over time even though contact with asbestos ended decades ago.
Unfortunately, since the 1940’s, millions of Americans were unknowingly exposed to asbestos in the workplace, and the banning of certain asbestos materials didn’t begin until the 1970’s. If workers did not properly remove asbestos dust from their hair, skin, and clothing, family members coming in contact with fibers were also unknowingly placed at risk.
If you have been exposed to asbestos and have any of the following symptoms, please see a health care provider right away to identify the cause and ensure immediate treatment. The American Cancer Society lists the following symptoms as common for most people months prior to a mesothelioma diagnosis:
Pleural Mesothelioma (of the Chest) Symptoms
- Pain in the side of the chest or lower back
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble swallowing (feeling like food gets stuck)
- Swelling of the face and arms
- Peritoneal ( abdominal cavity) mesothelioma symptoms
Abdominal (belly) pain
- Swelling or fluid in the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pericardial (in the heart) mesothelioma symptoms
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Heart murmur
- Shortness of breath
General mesothelioma symptoms
- Excessive sweating
- Weight Loss without trying
- Blood Clots
- Loss of appetite
How to Prevent Mesothelioma and Asbestosis after Exposure
If you believe you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos, the most important thing to do is to stop the exposure. However, many people were exposed to asbestos years ago and are worried about being at risk for developing mesothelioma. The Roswell Park Cancer center offers this advice to help prevent mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos.
- Don’t smoke, and if you do, quit. Studies show that smoking compounds the risk of developing mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
- Avoid “disturbing” asbestos. If you suspect that there is asbestos in your home, hire a professional asbestos contractor for an analysis and any repair work. Never drill, hammer, cut or move any item that may contain asbestos, such as floor or ceiling tiles.
- Workers who are concerned about asbestos exposure in the workplace should discuss the situation with their employers. Employers are required to follow strict on-the-job regulations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- If you have a history of asbestos exposure, you are at increased risk for the disease. Talk to your doctor about early screening, and be sure to watch for any symptoms.
How West Law Firm Can Help
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer, it’s important to speak with an experienced asbestosis attorney like those at West Law Firm to learn about your options and to protect your rights. We invite you to call us for a Free Attorney Consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-943-9378 (WEST), and there’s never a fee unless and until we recover compensation for you.