Knoxville Mesothelioma & Toxic Exposure Lawyer
In the 1930s, companies began using asbestos fibers in the production of insulation, drywall, wiring, ceiling tiles, shingles, and other building materials. Eventually, after several decades of widespread asbestos use, doctors discovered a link between mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs and abdomen, and asbestos exposure. Although asbestos use has dropped significantly in the last thirty years, life-threatening cases continue to crop up across the country, in large part because it can take between twenty and fifty years after exposure before symptoms begin to appear. The Knoxville mesothelioma & toxic exposure lawyers at Fox Willis Burnette, PLLC have been representing those suffering from mesothelioma for over thirty years.
Knoxville Asbestos Exposure
People who worked closely with or near asbestos-containing products are among the most commonly diagnosed groups, especially those who:
- Worked at an asbestos mine, power plant, or chemical plant;
- Worked in the construction or automotive industries;
- Served on a military ship or shipyard;
- Lived in buildings constructed with asbestos-containing products;
- Lived in an area located near an asbestos mine; or
- Disturbed existing asbestos products during home renovation.
Exposure occurs when raw asbestos is inhaled. Once it has been breathed in, it is difficult for the body to expel the jagged fibers, which then build up in the lining of the lungs or abdomen. Over time, the trapped fibers begin to cause inflammation and scarring in the protective membranes around the lungs, abdomen and heart, allowing cancer cells to divide and spread.
Even those who did not work in an occupation where they were exposed directly to asbestos may still have been exposed to the carcinogenic fibers secondarily. For instance, many family members of workers who were exposed to asbestos were also exposed to the fibers when their family members carried them home on their clothing, hair, and tools. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, so those who lived near large deposits of asbestos or near asbestos mines are also at risk of developing mesothelioma.
Although mesothelioma can go undetected for decades, there are some symptoms that can indicate the existence of the disease at an earlier stage, including:
- A persistent cough;
- Pain or tightening in the chest;
- Difficulty swallowing;
- Swelling of the neck or face;
- Shortness of breath;
- Appetite and weight loss;
- Fatigue and anemia;
- Abdominal pain;
- Fever and night sweats; and
- Abdominal bloating and lumps.
State and Federal Regulation
The dangers of asbestos have been well-established for decades, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has long since created a set of rules regulating and monitoring exposure to the toxic fibers on the job. If your job requires that you spend a significant amount of time around asbestos, your employer is legally required to take certain safety precautions to protect you and fellow employees, including:
- Training on how to properly handle toxic substances;
- Providing properly ventilated work areas;
- Monitoring employees’ asbestos exposure levels;
- Providing warning signs;
- Supplying protective clothing, such as gloves, goggles, and face shields;
- Providing respirators;
- Taking post-exposure precautions; and
- Requiring medical examinations for workers who are exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos.
A failure to adhere to these regulations can open employers up to liability if their employees develop mesothelioma as a result of their negligence.
Knoxville Mesothelioma Compensation
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or a similar disease, due to asbestos exposure, you may be able to obtain compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. There are a number of parties who can be held liable for your illness, including:
- The company (or its insurer) that manufactured or installed the asbestos. Even if the original manufacturer is no longer in business, victims can still collect compensation through an asbestos victims’ trust fund;
- The manufacturer of any failed protective equipment;
- The owners of the premises where the work was performed and the victim was exposed to asbestos; and
- Contractors and subcontractors.
The Knoxville toxic exposure lawyers at Fox Willis Burnette, PLLC have obtained over $25 million in compensation on behalf of those who were diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Filing Your Toxic Exposure Claim
In most instances, the parties involved in a personal injury suit will attempt to reach a settlement agreement in order to avoid the expense and stress of trial. Settlement amounts vary, however, based on a number of different factors, including:
- The victim’s diagnosis;
- The cost of medical care;
- The amount of lost wages;
- Pain and suffering;
- Lost lifetime earning capacity;
- Any unpaid bills; and
- Whether the victim has any dependents.
If a settlement agreement cannot be reached, a victim has the option of filing a lawsuit in court. While this is much more time-consuming than the settlement process, many mesothelioma victims receive a higher award when they take their case to trial than when they settle.
In Tennessee, victims of asbestos exposure only have one year from the time they are diagnosed to bring a claim against the negligent party. In the event that the victim has already passed away, any heirs can file a lawsuit on his or her behalf, although they must do so within a year of the victim’s death.
Contact the Experienced Knoxville Mesothelioma Lawyers at Fox Willis Burnette, PLLC Today
Mesothelioma is an especially aggressive and deadly form of cancer, and treatment may require multiple courses of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. This makes it nearly impossible for many mesothelioma patients to pursue their legal rights by seeking the advice of an attorney. We are sensitive to the fact that you may have limitations that make it difficult to meet at an office and are willing to have a member of our legal team meet with you at a more convenient location, including the hospital or your home.
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma because of exposure to asbestos over the last fifty years, you may be able to obtain compensation for your losses. Please contact our Knoxville mesothelioma lawyers at (866) 958-4414 for a free consultation and we will help explain your legal options.