When Asbestos Exposure Results in Personal Injury
After years as a productive worker, you find yourself suffering from a serious respiratory disease. The truth is, many industries spent decades exposing workers to asbestos before research came out linking the substance to cancer and other serious respiratory illnesses. Asbestos-related diseases can come from a number of places, but occupational exposure is the number one cause. Workers in the construction industry, including plumbers, roofers, electricians, insulators and carpenters are at highest risk, as well as firefighters, mechanics and factory workers, refinery workers, painters, power plant workers, and shipyard employees. If you believe you are experiencing health issues due to asbestos exposure, you may benefit from the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Asbestos Exposure has Serious Health Risks
How are individuals exposed to this dangerous substance? Believe it or not, asbestos exists in a plethora of materials. Drilling or sandblasting distresses these materials, causing microscopic fibers to become airborne. Now the asbestos is really dangerous; and it can remain in the air for hours, a hazard for anyone who comes in the area.
Humans are at risk when they breathe in these microscopic fibers. The fibers may become wedged in or around the lungs, and may remain there for a lifetime. When they settle in the respiratory system, scarring and inflammation may occur, although it may take years for symptoms to become visible. In fact, serious diseases may not be diagnosed for up to 50 years following exposure. The most common disease associated with asbestos is mesothelioma, but other conditions may develop as well, including:
- Pleural plaques: thickening of the lining around the lungs;
- Asbestosis: scarring of lung tissue;
- COPD: respiratory disease exacerbated by exposure to asbestos;
- Lung cancer: accounting for 4 percent of lung cancer cases.
Hundreds of thousands of people live with these conditions in this country, and roughly 10,000 die from them every year.
Secondary Exposures Equally Serious
The deadly asbestos fibers may impact individuals who are nowhere near sites known to have asbestos problems. That’s because these fibers may attach themselves to workers’ clothing, shoes, skin and hair. Workers then bring the particles home, where children and family members are unwittingly exposed. Because there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, family members are at risk of disease, due to this secondary exposure, as well as the workers themselves.
Is Asbestos a Problem in Florida?
Asbestos-containing materials (ACM) exist in abundance in Florida buildings, but are of no risk to the public as long as they are not disturbed. On the other hand, anytime buildings are under renovation, there is a possibility of asbestos exposure. Furthermore, Florida is home to many shipyards, chemical plants and other industries that deal with asbestos, and tons of asbestos is processed in cities from Tampa to St. Petersburg; the potential for exposure is undeniable.
Whether your respiratory issues are a result of direct or secondary exposure to asbestos, you are no doubt facing financial distress due to your health problems. If your personal injury can be tied to the negligence, or gross negligence of an employer who caused an asbestos exposure, you may be eligible for damages.
In order to file a claim for asbestos exposure in Florida, there are key requirements:
- You must document your work and health history (including smoking history) and the alleged exposure;
- Evidence that your symptoms became apparent at least ten years following exposure;
- A physician’s diagnosis that you have a permanent respiratory impairment of Class 2 (or more serious);
- A physician’s diagnosis of widespread pleural plaques;
- A physician’s judgment that asbestosis is a substantial contributing factor to your respiratory disease.
The documentation, investigation, and battle for compensation in a case involving asbestos can be time-consuming and tedious. But at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian, we know the law. Let our compassionate, aggressive team fight for justice on your behalf. Contact us today in Tampa for a free, confidential consultation.