Asbestos refers to a group of fibrous minerals used by industries because it was strong, heat resistant, does not conduct electricity and was inexpensive. Asbestos fibers are tiny; not visible without the use of a microscope and can be inhaled when airborne. If the fibers are breathed into the lungs they cling to the lining of the lungs and other parts of the respiratory system. The fibers are not broken down by the body and are difficult to expel so they become lodged in the lung tissue and cause disease.
Since the latter part of the 1970s asbestos use has declined. It is now known that asbestos is a carcinogen. However, for many years there were many products that contained this deadly carcinogen. Some of the products that commonly contained asbestos included:
People who worked in the following occupations may have been exposed to airborne asbestos:
When asbestos becomes airborne and the tiny particles are inhaled, they can damage the lungs. The two types of cancer that result of inhaling asbestos are:
The symptoms of mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer can take decades to reveal themselves. In many cases, people who have contracted these diseases from asbestos exposure do not receive a mesothelioma or lung cancer diagnosis until their condition has reached an advanced stage.
Mesothelioma is a particular type of cancer caused by asbestos. Exposure to asbestos can result in mesothelioma symptoms not being present for as long as 50 years.
The main ways to receive compensation are through a lawsuit (settlement or verdict after a trial), a bankruptcy trust fund claim or a Veterans Administration claim. Whether you will have a successful lawsuit or claim depends upon the individual facts in your individual case.
Some companies that manufactured products using asbestos successfully filed bankruptcy. However, as a condition of their bankruptcies, the companies were required to pay money into trust funds for current and future claims of people who were harmed by their products.
Since it can take decades before there are any symptoms or diagnoses made, there are likely to be new claims made for many years to come. Although there have been more than $17 billion in claims paid, there is still more than a collective $30 billion in trust funds.
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