The dangers of asbestos have been known for nearly a hundred years. And yet, our Columbus mesothelioma lawyers find that this dangerous material continues to pose a serious threat to the health of workers in a number of different industries. This threat can take many different forms, including a devastating cancer known as mesothelioma.
Colombo Law has extensive experience handling work injury claims. In addition to workers’ comp benefits, we have helped many workers obtain full compensation for job-related injuries and illnesses through third-party claims.
Please call (614) 362-7000 today for a free consultation with a Columbus mesothelioma lawyer. Colombo Law serves workers and families throughout Ohio.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral composed of thin fibers. It is extremely durable and naturally resistant to heat, fire, water damage, and electrical current.
These properties made asbestos a popular material for construction, insulation, and manufacturing. Asbestos has been used for a variety of different purposes, including:
- Insulation in homes, apartment buildings, schools, factories, etc.
- Vinyl flooring
- Roofing shingles
- Construction siding
- Natural gas pipelines and other equipment
- Motor vehicle components
- Batting, sheeting, and other materials used to insulate pipes, boilers, water heaters, furnaces, etc.
- Fireproofing and fire-resistance treatments
Starting in the 1930s, however, it started to become clear that asbestos has major adverse health impacts. Workers in close proximity to locations and products containing asbestos were at the highest risk of serious illness. Today, it is understood that anyone can get sick if they are exposed to asbestos with sufficient duration, concentration, and frequency.
It is commonly assumed that asbestos is banned in the United States, but this is not the case. Although the EPA implemented a partial ban on “the manufacture, import, processing, and distribution” of certain products containing asbestos in 1989 and the agency is currently reviewing a proposed ban on ongoing use, asbestos can still be found in many areas of Ohio and elsewhere in the United States.
What Is Mesothelioma?
A number of serious illnesses have been connected to asbestos exposure. However, the disease most closely associated with asbestos is mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a cancer of the tissue known as the mesothelium that lines the body’s internal organs. It is almost exclusively linked to asbestos exposure.
There is no cure for mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is also aggressive, which can limit treatment options unless the cancer is caught early.
Mesothelioma comes in the following forms:
The most common type of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma impacts the lining of the lungs (the pleura). Symptoms may include:
- Chronic breathing difficulties
- Tightness in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Cough that won’t go away
- Hoarseness and other changes in the voice
- Trouble swallowing
- Unexplained weight loss
Peritoneal mesothelioma is centered on the tissue that surrounds the organs in the abdomen. The peritoneum encases the stomach, liver, bowels, and more.
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden weight loss
The pericardium is the lining around the heart. Pericardial mesothelioma may involve symptoms such as:
- Pain in the chest
- Trouble breathing or catching your breath
- Irregular heartbeat
- Buildup of fluid around the heart
What Other Diseases Are Associated with Asbestos Exposure?
Although mesothelioma is the most prominent asbestos-related illness, it is not the only serious condition workers and other people exposed to asbestos may experience. Other illnesses linked to asbestos include:
- Asbestosis – damage to the lungs from inhaled asbestos fibers
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (or COPD)
- Scarring, plaque buildup, and inflammation of the pleural tissue
Mesothelioma is not the only type of cancer for which individuals exposed to asbestos may be at risk. Studies show a significant connection between asbestos exposure and cancers of the lungs, throat, and – among women – ovaries. In addition, some research suggests that the risk of stomach cancer and colorectal cancer is elevated if you have been exposed to asbestos.
What Are My Legal Options for Asbestos Exposure?
The majority of people who develop mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease are exposed to the toxic material in the course of their employment. If this is the case, workers and their families may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits such as:
- Coverage of medical expenses
- Wage loss and disability benefits
- Death benefits
However, your legal options might not be limited to workers’ comp. A Columbus mesothelioma lawyer can explore any and all additional claims you may be able to bring for serious illnesses related to asbestos exposure.
Who Is Liable for Asbestos Exposure?
Multiple third parties may be held liable if the evidence shows that their negligence contributed to a claimant’s asbestos-related illness. You might be able to bring a claim against one or more of the following:
- The manufacturer of a product containing asbestos fibers
- The owner of premises where asbestos was present (subject to requirements and restrictions found in Ohio Revised Code § 2307.941)
- Contractors and subcontractors working on the premises
Asbestos litigation is complex. Ohio has enacted a number of statutes governing how these claims must proceed, including a requirement that any asbestos claim involving a “nonmalignant condition” (i.e., asbestos-related illnesses other than mesothelioma and other types of cancer) be supported by a prima-facie showing of the plaintiff’s physical impairment as a result of exposure to asbestos (see Ohio Revised Code § 2307.92).
Comprehensive medical and occupational evidence is necessary to prove (a) how asbestos exposure has impacted your health and (b) how you were exposed to asbestos. The attorneys at Colombo Law will investigate to ensure your illness is thoroughly documented and all of your losses are accounted for.
In addition, a Columbus mesothelioma lawyer can determine if you are eligible to make a claim via an asbestos trust fund. These funds have been implemented to provide compensation for the victims of mesothelioma and other diseases by companies that were forced to declare bankruptcy amid asbestos litigation.
Can I Sue My Employer for Asbestos Exposure?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. Therefore, you are generally not allowed to file a lawsuit against an employer for injuries and illnesses sustained in the course of and/or as a result of your employment.
That said, employers can be held liable for knowingly and intentionally putting workers in harm’s way. Given the well-publicized dangers of asbestos and the OSHA regulations designed to limit workplace exposure, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against an employer that fails to protect employees from asbestos if it can be proved that the employer knew or should have known about the potential for exposure and failed to provide a safe workplace and/or equipment to protect workers.
Compensation for Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos-Related Diseases
The compensation you may be entitled to for mesothelioma and other illnesses linked to asbestos exposure depends on the damages you and your loved ones have sustained, as well as the claim or claims you are able to pursue. Generally speaking, the damages that can be recovered in personal injury claims in Ohio include:
- Medical costs to date
- Future medical expenses
- Loss of income (current wages as well as future earning capacity)
- Costs associated with medical-related travel
- The cost of hiring in-home medical professionals and household services
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment and quality of life
Families of those who died from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses can seek recovery of damages through a wrongful death claim. If your loved one passed away after battling cancer or another medical condition linked to asbestos, you owe it to yourself to speak to a Columbus mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible.
Surviving spouses, children, and other relatives may be entitled to wrongful death damages such as:
- Loss of support, society, and companionship
- Mental anguish
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of economic support
- Medical expenses prior to death
- Your loved one’s conscious pain and suffering
How Long Do I Have to Make a Mesothelioma Claim in Ohio?
Most personal injury claims in Ohio are subject to a 2-year statute of limitations. That is, you usually have 2 years from the date of the injury to bring a claim for compensation.
Claims for injury and illness caused by asbestos exposure are slightly different. Ohio Revised Code § 2305.10(B)(5) states that the statute of limitations begins on whichever of the following dates comes first:
- When “the plaintiff is informed by competent medical authority that the plaintiff has an injury that is related to” asbestos exposure.
- The “date on which by the exercise of reasonable diligence the plaintiff should have known that the plaintiff has an injury that is related to the exposure.”
Generally, you have 2 years from the date you are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness to bring a claim. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or another condition linked to asbestos exposure, you owe it to yourself and your family to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
Symptoms of mesothelioma and other conditions can take years or even decades to develop. Fortunately, Ohio law provides a much-needed extension to the statute of limitations for victims of asbestos exposure who would otherwise have no legal recourse for pursuing compensation.
Ohio Mesothelioma Statistics
Throughout its history, Ohio has been a heavily industrialized state. Manufacturing remains a cornerstone of the Ohio economy. Unfortunately, the existence of so many jobs in manufacturing and other industries has led to a significant rate of mesothelioma in the Buckeye State.
Asbestos was widely used in steel mills, automotive plants, petroleum processing centers, and factories. Many products containing asbestos were also produced in Ohio.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Ohio ranks sixth in the nation for deaths from asbestos disease. According to The Mesothelioma Center, 2,196 people have died from mesothelioma and 344 have died from asbestosis.
Mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other illnesses tied to asbestos remain a significant health concern in Ohio. Workers and their families, as well as those who lived in structures containing asbestos, are at the highest risk of developing cancer, respiratory disease, and other conditions.
If you have been affected by asbestos, you need experienced legal counsel to help you understand your legal options. Colombo Law can help.
Learn How a Columbus Mesothelioma Lawyer Can Help You
Asbestos is truly a “silent killer.” Most people are not aware that they have been exposed to asbestos. When they are diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or another disease, the impact is equal parts unexpected and devastating.
Victims of asbestos exposure may be entitled to significant compensation. However, it is difficult to know where to start, especially if your symptoms develop years after the fact.
A Columbus mesothelioma lawyer at Colombo Law can help. Our team can fully explore your legal options, collect the necessary evidence to show that you were exposed to asbestos and got sick as a result, and build a strong claim for the maximum compensation you deserve.
Please call Colombo Law at (614) 362-7000 today for a free case review. Our Columbus mesothelioma lawyers serve people who have been exposed to asbestos throughout Ohio.