When you took your job, you probably expected your employer to make your safety a priority. This would include either eliminating or mitigating any potential hazards in your workplace.
What if your employer knew of a potentially fatal hazard but did nothing to protect you from it? If that hazard was exposure to asbestos, the odds are that the company ignored the mounting evidence that this toxic substance could cause your health problems at some point in your life.
When did science and medicine know asbestos was harmful?
Information about asbestos has been available for quite a long time. Records indicate that, as early as 1899, professionals labeled asbestos a toxic dust. By 1930, the medical community recognized asbestosis as a disease associated with exposure to, well, asbestos. In 1940, employers told workers to change their clothes before leaving the workplace.
Around 1965, researchers connected asbestos with mesothelioma and recognized that workers could carry it home on their clothes (and their person) and expose others as well. In 1966, the government pointed out the need to protect workers from exposure to asbestos. Federal agencies recommended that employers provide full protection for workers exposed to asbestos in 1976. However, it wasn’t until 1994 that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration lowered the “safe level” of exposure.
What all this means is that industries using asbestos knew for at least 100 years that exposure could be toxic to humans. Even so, they continued to use it and failed to adequately protect workers.
What does this mean for mesothelioma deaths around the country?
Decades-old exposure to asbestos continues to plague the United States. Consider the following statistics:
- Over 31,000 people died from mesothelioma between 1999 and 2010.
- Approximately 2,500 people still die each year from this fatal disease.
- Around 3,000 people receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma every year.
Florida (1,713 deaths) only edged out Pennsylvania (1,711 deaths) for the number-two spot on the list of top five states with the highest number of deaths from mesothelioma by two between 2001 and 2010. California saw the most deaths during this period.
What does this mean for your compensation efforts?
You more than likely already know that it could take decades for someone to manifest symptoms of this disease after exposure. Fortunately, that does not mean that you cannot pursue compensation for the harm done to you by asbestos. Even though the data indicates the harmful effects of asbestos were fairly well known for a long time, your employer didn’t necessarily have to know for you to seek compensation.
Other legal options may still be available. This area of the law can be rather complex, and you may need the help of legal counsel experienced in mesothelioma litigation. You and your family deserve the best chance possible to hold the responsible parties liable for your current situation.