1 ASBESTOS-RELATED DISEASES AND LEGAL COMPENSATION ASBESTOSIS LUNG CANCER MESOTHELIOMA 1997 Thomas J. Lamb, P.A. WHO WAS EXPOSED TO ASBESTOS? It is estimated that more than 21 million Americans have had a significant amount of asbestos exposure in the past. Most of these people were exposed to asbestos dust during their work with or around asbestos containing products before the mid-1970's, when the use of these products was reduced. The workers who were most likely exposed to asbestos dust on the job include the following: Boilermakers Bricklayers Building Engineers Carpenters Cement Finishers Custodians Electricians Foundry Workers HVAC Mechanics Insulators Ironworkers Laborers Machinists Maintenance Merchant Mariners Millwrights Navy Personnel Paperworkers Pipefitters Plasterers Plumbers Powerhouse Workers Railroad Workers Refinery Workers Rubber Workers Sheetmetal Workers Shipyard Workers Steamfitters Steelworkers Welders
2 Further, it is important to realize that family members who came in contact with, handled, or washed the dirty and dusty clothes of these workers may have been exposed to asbestos, also, and an asbestos-related disease could develop. WHAT ARE ASBESTOS-RELATED DISEASES? The most common asbestos-related diseases are asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Asbestos can also cause esophageal, pharyngeal, and laryngeal cancers, as well as stomach cancer and colon cancer. A very important characteristic of asbestos-related diseases is the long delay, or latency period, between asbestos exposure and the onset of disease. It is usually at least 15 years, and sometimes as long as 40 or 50 years, after the person s first exposure to asbestos before an asbestos-related disease develops. Because of this latency period, people exposed to asbestos many years ago are still at risk, today, to develop an asbestos-related disease. Only a medical doctor can accurately determine whether a person has developed a disease which was caused by asbestos. If you think that you may have an asbestos-related disease because of your past exposure to asbestos and your present physical symptoms, the Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb, P.A. urges you to consult with a doctor, immediately. To assist you with identifying a possible asbestos-related disease, here are some basic facts about asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. ASBESTOSIS Asbestosis has a latency period of at least 15 years, and there may be no physical symptoms of this disease until 20 to 40 years after the person s first exposure to asbestos. The usual problem complained of by a person who has developed asbestosis is shortness of breath, or wheezing, upon exertion, i.e., dyspnea. In addition, a dry or productive cough becomes more troublesome as the disease progresses. The health problems caused by asbestosis are due mainly to lung infections, like pneumonia, that attack weakened lungs. Moreover, for a person with asbestosis, the risk of developing lung cancer is increased at least 5 times.
3 LUNG CANCER Due to the latency period for lung cancer, this disease is usually diagnosed 25 to 40 years following the person s first exposure to asbestos. The early symptoms of lung cancer are progressive weakness, weight loss, fatigue, and coughing or spitting of blood, i.e., hemoptysis. The more asbestos dust inhaled by a person in the past, the greater the risk of that person developing lung cancer at some time in the future. MESOTHELIOMA For mesothelioma, the latency period between the person s first asbestos exposure and the start of this disease is at least 20 years and sometimes as long as 50 years. Shortness of breath, or wheezing, upon exertion, i.e., dyspnea, and chest pain are the most important early symptoms. A dry cough, malaise, and weight loss may occur, also. WHY IS SMOKING ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS? It is important to know that the combination of asbestos exposure and cigarette smoking is very harmful. A person s chance of developing lung cancer is increased approximately 5 times when there has been asbestos exposure but the person does not smoke cigarettes. The risk of developing lung cancer is increased approximately 10 times if a person smokes cigarettes but was not exposed to asbestos. Where there is asbestos exposure and cigarette smoking combined, however, a person s risk of developing lung cancer is increased as much as 50 to 90 times. There is evidence that quitting smoking will reduce the risk of lung cancer among people who have been exposed to asbestos, perhaps by as much as half after at least 5 years without smoking. Accordingly, smokers with asbestos exposure should try to quit smoking.
4 HOW DO WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES GET LEGAL COMPENSATION FOR DISEASE OR DEATH CAUSED BY EXPOSURE TO ASBESTOS? The evidence shows that most asbestos manufacturers knew long ago their products would injure and kill people, but these companies actively conspired to hide this information in order to keep selling their products. For these reasons, asbestos manufacturers are being held legally liable, and are required to pay compensation, in connection with the asbestos-related diseases or deaths suffered by workers and their families, now. The most common method of seeking legal compensation for disease or death caused by asbestos is the filing of a lawsuit. Under North Carolina law, there are statutes of limitations that determine the time period within which one may file such a lawsuit. A personal injury case must be filed within 3 years from the date the asbestos-related disease is diagnosed. A wrongful death case must be filed within 2 years from the date of death. In addition, there may be a workers compensation claim. A workers comp claim must be filed within 2 years from the date of diagnosis or the date of death. Because of these deadlines, a person should not delay in finding a law firm to provide legal advice and legal representation when there is a possible claim for compensation involving an asbestos-related disease or death. THE REPRESENTS WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES. The Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb, P.A. represents workers and their families when there is a disease or death caused by asbestos. This law firm has successfully handled many asbestos cases from all parts of the State. The Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb, P.A. handles asbestos cases on a contingency fee basis. As a result, there is no bill for legal services until after the law firm gets a settlement or verdict for the client. If you, relatives, or friends need legal advice or legal representation for a possible claim involving a disease or death which may have been caused by asbestos, the Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb, P.A. is available to discuss the case, at any time, free of charge. The Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb, P.A. can be visited at 616 Princess Street, in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. Appointments are suggested but not required.
5 Often times a telephone call to the Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb, P.A. is the best way to have an initial discussion about a disease or death which may have been caused by asbestos. Mr. Lamb welcomes the opportunity to speak with workers and their families about any concerns or questions regarding asbestos-related diseases and legal compensation. The toll-free telephone number for the Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb, P.A. is (800) Lumina Station, Suite Eastwood Road Wilmington, NC Telephone: Toll Free: Facsimile: