In the U.S., an estimated 3,000 people receive a mesothelioma diagnosis yearly. While this rare cancer makes up only 0.3% of all cancer cases, it is a traumatic experience for those who get it and their loved ones. In most cases, mesothelioma arises from asbestos exposure.
If you or someone you love has a mesothelioma diagnosis, your life is undoubtedly in upheaval, leaving you with questions and concerns about the future. Though no amount of money can change a diagnosis, you deserve compensation to ensure your family’s financial security. If you work in an industry with a high asbestos exposure rate, you should not have to wait around to get the help you need to monitor your health. A Utah mesothelioma lawyer at Siegfried and Jensen can assist you through the legal process of filing an asbestos-related personal injury claim.
Know the Facts About Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is cancer that originates in the soft tissue lining in your chest, abdomen and around the heart. For most, the cancer forms in the pleura, the lining surrounding the lungs. If you work around asbestos, you can inhale the microscopic fibers of the substance.
These fibers make their way to your chest as you breathe, getting stuck in the lining. In your body’s attempt to dislodge the fibers, you experience long-term inflammation and eventual scarring, causing tumors to form. Though everyone is different, it takes a long time for cancer to develop. The average latency period is between 40 and 50 years.
Unfortunately, the slow growth means you might not know you have cancer until it has grown large enough or metastasized for effective treatment. By that time, it can be difficult to trace the asbestos source. Another challenge is that many liable companies filed for bankruptcy or dissolution. A Utah mesothelioma lawyer has the knowledge and resources to help you determine where you were exposed and who is responsible.
What Are the Signs of Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma symptoms are similar to those of other diseases. Furthermore, in the early stages, you may be asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms that are easy for you to overlook or attribute to a more common cause. The long latency period for this cancer also means that you and your doctor may not relate symptoms you have asbestos exposure if your job no longer entails working around the carcinogenic substance. For these reasons, mesothelioma detection is challenging. The common signs of pleural mesothelioma are as follows:
- Dry cough
- Chest pains
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle weakness
Many people also get a hoarse voice, have difficulty swallowing, and experience unexplained weight loss.
If your cancer develops in the abdomen, you may experience abdominal pain, swelling and fluid buildup. You may also have nausea and vomiting, lose your appetite, experience constipation and lose weight. Often, people mistake these symptoms for digestion issues.
What Are the Mesothelioma Risk Factors?
Asbestos exposure is almost entirely responsible for mesothelioma cases in the U.S. If you work or have worked in an industry known to have a high exposure rate, you are at increased risk. These industries include the following:
- Shipyard workers
Additionally, if you were in the vicinity of the World Trade Center during and following the attack on 9/11, you are also at risk. Asbestos exposure is likely for first responders, those working in the WTC or surrounding buildings and those in the vicinity, as the buildings’ collapses released high levels of asbestos into the air.
Due to how long it takes for symptoms to arise, most people diagnosed with mesothelioma are older and far removed from their exposure period. If you are or were in a high-risk industry, you can take action before you get sick. Early diagnosis is the key to a better prognosis. When you know you are at risk, your doctor can monitor your health, looking for signs of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
Understand the Legal Landscape
Asbestos is not a banned substance in the U.S. Companies can and do still manufacture and use products containing the highly toxic material. Federal and state laws regulate the substance and claims pertaining to asbestos-related injuries, including mesothelioma.
How Does Federal Law Impact Mesothelioma Cases?
Federal laws provide oversight for industries that work with asbestos. These regulations establish measures industries must take to maintain safe conditions for people who may come in contact with the substance. When they don’t adhere to federal requirements, they are responsible for the adverse outcomes that result. Four government bodies play a role in asbestos regulations and exposure:
- The Environmental Protection Agency: The EPA has primary regulatory and oversight responsibility, creating most of the legal framework surrounding asbestos. Unfortunately, no single overarching law exists, providing those in the industry with loopholes to avoid responsibility.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration: OSHA is responsible for oversight of workplace conditions, holding industries accountable for safety standards and risks.
- Consumer Product Safety Commission: The CPSC safeguards the public against hazardous products. The commission is responsible for asbestos bans in some products in widespread public use.
- Miners Safety and Health Administration: MSHA is a regulatory body similar to OSHA but specifically for the mining industry.
When you work with a Utah mesothelioma lawyer, your attorney understands the immense, complex legal landscape involved in asbestos regulations. Knowledge of these laws is critical to proving negligence and holding a company accountable for your illness. These regulations provide key support in your pursuit of just compensation.
How Does State Law Impact Mesothelioma Cases?
State laws play two roles in mesothelioma cases. States implement laws that reinforce or strengthen those the federal government establishes. Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality has a set of rules for managing asbestos and maintaining environmental and human health and safety.
In addition, each state has its own set of laws surrounding litigation. Often, states have rules in place specifically for asbestos claims. Utah’s Asbestos Litigation Transparency Act is one such law. It stipulates conditions plaintiffs must meet before filing a personal injury lawsuit for asbestos-related disease. It also sets criteria for the statute of limitations in these cases.
All states impose deadlines for filing civil lawsuits. Generally, the statute of limitations clock starts ticking the moment an injury-causing accident occurs. However, for an illness like mesothelioma, states recognize that the exposure and the illness onset are not simultaneous. Though you still have only three years to file a personal injury lawsuit, the clock starts when you know you receive a mesothelioma diagnosis.
How Do You Prove Liability in Mesothelioma Cases?
Proving liability is always a claimant’s responsibility, even in cases as egregious as those resulting in mesothelioma. Liability rests on proof of negligence. Holding another party accountable in an asbestos-related illness case is often challenging, given the time between exposure and disease onset.
You need to demonstrate that the other party was responsible for ensuring your safety and failed in that responsibility. Additionally, in most personal injury cases, you must meet a medical threshold before you can file a lawsuit. Utah does not prevent those at high risk of developing an asbestos-related illness from seeking compensation for medical monitoring and surveillance. However, the state gives priority to those with symptoms. A Utah mesothelioma lawyer can help you determine what options are available to you, whether you currently have symptoms or are at high risk for developing them later in life.
Get the Help You Need From a Utah Mesothelioma Lawyer
Asbestos-related diseases lead to emotional, physical and financial hardships for too many Utah citizens. Between 1999 and 2017, 1,593 people died from a disease caused by this hazardous material, and 299 of those suffered from mesothelioma. While early diagnosis improves prognosis, many people aren’t aware that they are at risk until it’s too late.
If you received a mesothelioma diagnosis, know that Siegfried and Jensen are here for you. This is a difficult time. We offer the legal support you need to get the medical, emotional and financial assistance you and your loved ones deserve as you concentrate on your health and well-being. Our attorneys will evaluate your case to help you understand your options. If you choose to file a lawsuit and are within the three-year time limit, we handle the legal tasks, including:
- Researching your exposure history
- Collecting evidence to support your claim
- Completing and filing legal paperwork
- Communicating with all parties involved
- Negotiating with the defense
- Representing you in court
Mesothelioma claims are a special personal injury category involving complex laws, regulations and procedures. At the same time, the disease itself requires all your focus and energy to fight it. A Utah mesothelioma lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Find a Lawyer Who Works for You
At Siegfried and Jensen, we have compassion for those who suffer injuries due to the negligence of others. Our goal is to provide you with personal attention and the level of support needed for you to pursue fair compensation while battling a severe disease. If you received a mesothelioma diagnosis, don’t wait to find out what choices are available to you. Contact us today for a free case review.
Siegfried and Jensen’s Attorneys Will Fight for Fairness
Siegfried and Jensen’s illness and injury lawyers understand how devastating mesothelioma can be for the whole family.
No one can undo a tragedy. But as compensation, victims of asbestos may be entitled to a monetary settlement to pay for medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, diminished earning capacity, lost income, and other costs and losses.
Because mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos, there are only a limited number of entities that can be held liable for the cancer. The legal situation can be complicated. If you have developed mesothelioma, you need an experienced asbestos injury lawyer to sort out your case and protect your rights.
Our lawyers understand asbestos and mesothelioma litigation. When you work with us, you can expect the best:
- We’ll answer your questions and address your concerns throughout the entire process.
- We’ll pull together the information needed to build your case, including medical records, insurance policies, expert testimony, etc.
- We’ll make sure that everybody plays by the rules and treats you fairly.