Mesothelioma and asbestos-related illnesses are public health concerns that have impacted countless lives across North Carolina and the United States. These diseases are often linked to asbestos exposure in various occupational and environmental settings. Kellum Law Firm, serving clients across North Carolina, is dedicated to assisting victims of mesothelioma and asbestos-related illnesses in their pursuit of justice and fair compensation. In this article, we’ll look into what mesothelioma is, its causes, and the legal avenues available to those affected.
Mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive cancer that primarily affects the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) or the lining of the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma). It can also occur in the lining of the heart or testicles, but such cases are extremely rare. Mesothelioma is directly linked to asbestos exposure, a mineral that was widely used in construction, manufacturing, and other industries throughout the 20th century.
Asbestos Exposure: The Root Cause
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was valued for its heat resistance and durability, making it a common component in insulation, construction materials, and various products. However, the inhalation or ingestion of microscopic asbestos fibers can lead to serious health problems. Asbestos exposure can occur in numerous settings, including:
- Occupational Exposure: Many workers, including those in construction, shipbuilding, automotive, and manufacturing, were exposed to asbestos in their workplaces.
- Environmental Exposure: Asbestos fibers can become airborne through natural weathering or disturbances in asbestos-containing materials, posing a risk to individuals living near contaminated sites.
- Secondary Exposure: Family members of workers who carried asbestos fibers home on their clothing may also be at risk of asbestos-related illnesses.
Here are some general statistics related to asbestos-related illnesses:
- Mesothelioma Incidence: Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, primarily associated with asbestos exposure. It is estimated that there are around 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma in the United States each year.
- Asbestosis Cases: Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease caused by asbestos exposure. While the number of new cases has declined in recent years due to stricter regulations, it remains a significant health concern.
- Global Impact: Asbestos-related diseases are a global health issue with asbestos exposure resulting in over 240,000 deaths worldwide annually, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.
- Occupational Risk: Certain industries and occupations, such as construction, shipbuilding, and asbestos mining, have a higher risk of asbestos-related illnesses. Workers in these sectors face a greater likelihood of exposure.
- Secondary Exposure: Family members and individuals living near asbestos-contaminated sites may also be at risk due to secondary exposure.
Legal Avenues for Asbestos Victims
Victims of mesothelioma and asbestos-related illnesses have legal recourse to seek justice and compensation for their suffering. In North Carolina, and across the United States, the following legal options are available:
- Personal Injury Claims: Those diagnosed with mesothelioma can file personal injury claims against responsible parties, such as employers or manufacturers of asbestos-containing products.
- Wrongful Death Claims: In cases where a loved one has passed away due to asbestos-related illnesses, surviving family members can pursue wrongful death claims to recover damages.
- Asbestos Trust Funds: Many companies responsible for asbestos exposure have established trust funds to compensate victims. These trust funds can provide financial relief to individuals and families affected by asbestos-related diseases.
- Veterans Benefits: Military personnel who were exposed to asbestos during their service may be eligible for veterans’ benefits to cover medical expenses and provide compensation.
- Class Action Lawsuits*: In some instances, mesothelioma victims may join class action lawsuits against multiple defendants.
*As asbestos litigation has evolved, the focus has often been on individual lawsuits or consolidated actions rather than traditional class action lawsuits. Victims of asbestosis typically pursue claims individually or as part of larger groups of asbestos-exposed individuals with similar health issues. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with asbestosis, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in asbestos litigation to explore the best legal options for your specific case.
At Kellum Law Firm, we have a deep understanding of the complexities surrounding mesothelioma and asbestos-related illnesses. We work tirelessly to ensure that victims and their families receive the compensation they deserve. Contact a member of our experienced legal team who will guide you through the legal process and help you identify responsible parties to hold accountable for your suffering.