Mesothelioma is a rare but deadly form of cancer. This disease is caused by exposure to asbestos dust or fibers in the workplace. Studies show that mesothelioma affects thousands of people each year, and will continue to affect thousands of people in the coming decades. In many cases, by the time it can be correctly diagnosed, mesothelioma will have progressed to such an advanced stage that medical options for treating it are limited – it can take decades for the disease to manifest itself. It may be of some comfort to victims of mesothelioma to know that the manufacturers of materials causing mesothelioma can be held liable, and substantial money awards can be awarded to victims and their families.
Asbestos was commonly used in building materials in the 1940s and earlier, through the 1970s. Plumbers, shipyard workers, electricians, boilermakers, shipbuilders, and demolition workers are the most likely to have been exposed to asbestos. But family members who washed workers’ clothes and people who have lived near asbestos factories may also have been exposed.
The early symptoms of mesothelioma are non-specific, and can easily be confused with pneumonia, leading to a delay in proper diagnosis. Some symptoms may include shortness of breath, persistent cough or chest pain. Pleural effusion, or fluid in the lungs, is common.
You may have heard about monetary awards juries have made to victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Each case like this involves a lengthy, stressful process that begins when the victim first consults an attorney, and ends when a jury makes its finding at the end of the trial. Between these two events are or years of discovery – the fact finding process during which evidence is obtained, examined, analyzed and organized, and testimony is taken during depositions.
Aside from the stress and strain of litigation are monetary costs. These costs can be considerable. If a malignant mesothelioma victim is in the advanced stages of the disease, he may want to consider options resolving the claim, because his life-expectancy may be short. One possibility may be reaching a settlement with one or more defendants.
Sometimes the conduct or knowledge of defendant corporations or corporate officers is such that juries have found them guilty on charges of civil and even criminal fraud and conspiracy. In these cases, defendants are possibly subject to punitive damages, which could be very substantial – amounting to a significant percentage of a defendant’s net worth.