When a life is taken prematurely from needless exposure to asbestos, families and loved ones will have lots of questions. Below, we have outlined a series of facts related to common questions family members and friends might have. Often, these facts are leveraged in legal proceedings to prove asbestos exposure led to the disease that took a loved one’s life.
Quick Facts for Families
Whether or not your family is considering filing a lawsuit in the wake of a loved one’s untimely death from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, it is key to know all of the facts.
According to recent data, an estimated 12,000-15,000 Americans die each year from mesothelioma and other diseases caused by exposure to asbestos. Yet each year, only about 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed. Compared to more common diseases, there is relatively little information on mesothelioma. Because of this, families are often left wondering what they should do after a death.
“Why me?” “What caused this disease?” “Who should be held responsible?” These are just a few of the common questions we receive from the family members of mesothelioma victims. Many of them are desperate for answers they cannot easily find. Most were never told they still have legal rights after their loved one’s untimely death.
In spite of this, it is crucial that you act on your rights — for both your sake and the sake of other families who could be hurt by asbestos in the future. But first, you need answers.
Below, we have put together a list of the most important things you should know about mesothelioma, your rights, and what to do next.
Mesothelioma Is Caused Directly by Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was once widely used in the U.S. to make consumer, industrial, and construction products. Despite its variety of uses, the mineral is (and was) a known carcinogen with no safe level of exposure. When inhaled, asbestos fibers can become lodged in the linings of major organs. The fibers cannot be broken down by the human body, so they damage healthy tissue for decades. This damage leads to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
Occupational Exposure Is the Most Common Cause of Mesothelioma
Most people who die from mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos on a regular basis at their jobs. The risk of exposure was greatest for workers in the mining, construction, and automotive industries. Those who served in the military were also at high risk. In fact, about 33% of mesothelioma cases involve exposure in the Navy or shipyards alone.
Mesothelioma Can Be Caused by Secondhand Exposure to Asbestos
Asbestos fibers, which are no thicker than a strand of hair, can easily cling to fabrics. Often, workers unknowingly exposed their families to asbestos through the fibers brought home on their work clothes. These fibers could linger and spread to other fabrics throughout the home.
Mesothelioma Deaths Are Completely Preventable
Many families are unaware that asbestos-related deaths were (and are) avoidable. The general public became aware of the serious health risks associated with asbestos in the 1970s. Asbestos companies discovered the health risks of asbestos exposure back in the 1930s. However, they chose to hide this information and put profits ahead of people. As a result, hundreds of thousands of workers and families were needlessly exposed.
Mesothelioma Is Expensive to Treat
Mesothelioma is a long-latency disease, meaning it usually takes 20-50 years to develop. Typically, by the time it is diagnosed, the disease has spread to other sites in the body. Treating aggressive mesothelioma involves multiple procedures and follow-up visits. The estimated costs are staggering. After paying as much as $4,000 out of pocket even before a diagnosis, the average patient is set back more than $400,000 in their first year of treatment alone.
Legal Compensation Helps Families Offset Financial Burdens
Most families simply cannot afford to pay for the treatment their loved one needs — let alone other costs, like caregiving and funeral expenses. That is why families are encouraged to take legal action. By filing a mesothelioma legal claim, victims and their families can find much-needed financial support. Legal action also holds asbestos companies accountable for their deceit and reckless behavior. Many families receive compensation within months of filing a claim.
Family Members Can File a Claim on Behalf of a Loved One
Even if a loved one has died, family members may be able to file a claim on their behalf. That said, there are strict time limits on when you can file. These limits are sometimes as short as one year or less. Each state has different laws and regulations, so a family should contact an attorney immediately if they want to file a claim on behalf of someone who has passed away.
Mesothelioma Claims Are Not Usually Made Against Employers
With most mesothelioma claims, compensation comes from the companies that made or sold asbestos-containing materials. Many of these companies declared bankruptcy to try to avoid responsibility. However, courts have ordered them to put trust funds aside for asbestos victims. These court-ordered trusts are currently estimated to be worth over $30 Billion.
Generally, Filing an Asbestos Claim Does Not Affect Other Benefits
In some cases, victims of asbestos exposure or their families are worried that filing an asbestos lawsuit will impact a person’s ability to collect Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, Social Security disability insurance, or pensions. In most cases, pursuing a claim will not impact your ability to receive these other benefits.
Families Come First
Whether or not a loved one wished to take legal action against asbestos companies, probably did not want to leave their family behind with a huge amount of medical-related debt.
Sokolove Law has helped families receive compensation for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. This may ease the financial burdens left behind after the death of a loved one. Get more information by calling (855) 854-2504 or filling out our contact form today.