Asbestos is the largest cause of occupational cancer in the U.S., according to the American Thoracic Society. Asbestos can cause severe and life-threatening diseases like mesothelioma, lung cancer, severe asbestosis, laryngeal cancer, esophageal cancer, colon cancer and rectal cancer.

If you or a loved one worked with asbestos and weren’t warned of the risks, you may be entitled to compensation. Widows and widowers are eligible in many cases, and smoking does not exempt a person from the possibility of receiving compensation.

These frequently asked questions will help you understand why you may want to contact an asbestos attorney and some basics of how asbestos lawsuits generally work.

The word ‘asbestos’ has its origin from a Greek word that means inextinguishable or indestructible. Asbestos is basically a form of rock or stone and is found naturally in the ground in many parts of the world. It was once considered a ‘magic mineral’ or ‘miracle substance’ due to the fact that it is fireproof and extremely resistant to many chemicals, but yet flexible, lightweight, strong, plentiful, inexpensive, does not conduct electricity, and can absorb sound.

Asbestos is mined or extracted more or less the same way as other minerals. However, unlike other types of minerals, asbestos rock or stone is soft and more similar to wool or cotton than to other minerals. As a result, asbestos rock or stone can be split into fibers or strands and can be bent, folded or twisted easily without breaking, making it very easy to weave, spin or ground up and put in protective clothing, insulation, gaskets, floor and ceiling tiles, wrapped around pipes, sprayed on windows or easily mixed with other materials as a binding or reinforcing agent in cement and plastics. Further, asbestos was used anytime heat and fire were a hazard as a flame retardant and heat insulator. There were approximately 3,000 products in workplace and construction materials containing asbestos up until the 1980s.

Hopefully nothing. In fact, many people who have been exposed to asbestos will have no adverse health effects during their life. Unfortunately, many people are not so lucky.

You should be aware that injuries caused by asbestos exposure can take up to 50 or 60 years (with an average between 35-40 years) until symptoms develop. This period of time is called the ‘latency period’ or the period of time from asbestos exposure until the disease becomes apparent in a clinical examination. As a result, many people who worked with or were exposed to asbestos many, many years ago may just be seeing the consequences of such exposure now. Many manufacturers of asbestos products and companies hope that a person will not know what caused their disease by the time their illness becomes apparent.

In addition to direct exposure to asbestos being a health hazard, many people have been indirectly exposed to asbestos, called “secondhand” exposure. Those persons who did not work directly with asbestos could also be affected by asbestos-caused diseases. These claims involve the family members of workers who inhaled asbestos fibers that were brought home on the clothing, shoes, skin, hair and equipment of someone who was exposed to asbestos off-site. Such exposure could occur, for example, when a child sat on the lap, or played with, a person exposed to asbestos at work. Or, many women were exposed to asbestos when they washed their husband or father’s contaminated clothes, usually after they shook out the clothes before washing them, causing the asbestos fibers to become airborne. Unfortunately, asbestos fibers were inhaled resulting in many cases in the development of asbestos related diseases many years later.

People who developed an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis or other asbestos-related cancers from being indirectly exposed to asbestos may file a lawsuit.

Although the human body can cleanse out many toxins, asbestos fibers may get trapped in the lungs or stomach cavity for a long time once they are inhaled or swallowed, embedding themselves in the lining of the lungs or stomach cavity. Over time, these fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation, which can affect breathing and lead to asbestos related diseases.

Anyone exposed to asbestos fibers is at risk, although the severity of the risk will depend on the following factors:

*The concentration of asbestos fibers in the air
*How long the exposure lasted
*How often you were exposed
*The size of the asbestos fibers inhaled
*The amount of time since the initial exposure

The risk of developing asbestos related diseases increases with age. About 2 out of 3 people with mesothelioma of the chest are 65 or older. Also, the disease is much more common in men than in women, because men more typically worked in jobs where they were exposed to asbestos. However, women whose husband, fathers, or other household members were exposed to asbestos are at risk of developing mesothelioma from secondary exposure to the asbestos dust and fibers on work clothes. Children in these homes also are at increased risk of developing mesothelioma.

The following are symptoms of asbestos-related diseases:

*Shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness
*A persistent cough that gets worse over time
*Blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up from the lungs
*Pain or tightening in the chest or abdominal pain
*Difficulty swallowing
*Swelling of the neck or face
*Loss of appetite
*Weight loss
*Fatigue or anemia

Individuals who may have been exposed to asbestos fibers should inform their doctor about their exposure history and whether or not they experience any symptoms. As noted, the symptoms of asbestos-related diseases may not become apparent for many decades after the exposure.

People may be exposed to asbestos in their workplace or their homes. You don’t have to look very hard to find asbestos where you live or work. Although the use of asbestos and asbestos products has substantially decreased in recent years, there are still found in many residential and commercial settings and continue to pose a health risk to workers and others. It is important to remember that every exposure to asbestos can cause injury or disease.

Some of the work environments or occupations in which workers are now or were exposed in the past include:

Work Environments
*Asbestos product manufacturing (insulation, roofing, building, materials)
*Automotive mechanics and repair (brakes & clutches)
*Boiler workers
*Cement plant workers
*Construction sites
*Heat-resistant fabrics
*Maritime operations
*Mining operations
*Offshore rust removals
*Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets with asbestos insulation
*Oil refineries
*Paper mills
*Power plants
*Sand or abrasive manufacturers
*Shipyards / ships / shipbuilders
*Steel mills
*Textile mills

*Asbestos removal workers
*Demolition workers
*Workers at asbestos product manufacturing plants
*Auto mechanics
*Building inspectors
*Floor covering manufacturers or installers
*Furnace workers
*Hod carriers
*HVAC mechanics
*Iron workers
*Maintenance workers
*Merchant marines
*Oil and refinery workers
*Operating engineers
*Railroad workers
*Steel mill workers (ovens, furnaces, rolling mills, tanks, boilers, cranes, and steam pipes)

Further, activities which disturb asbestos-containing materials, such as home or building construction, renovation, demolition, maintenance, repair, and remodeling, cause tiny asbestos fibers to be released into the air. These airborne fibers can be easily inhaled or swallowed or land on and stick to clothing. Some of the products found in homes in which persons are now or were exposed in the past include:

*Roofing and siding shingles
*Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos as insulation
*Textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints (their use was banned in 1977)
*Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces
*Older products such as stove-top pads may have some asbestos compounds
*Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves may be protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets
*Hot water and steam pipes in older houses may be coated with an asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape
*Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets may have asbestos insulation
*Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives

When you visit your doctor for a checkup, tell him or her that you were exposed to asbestos and concerned that you may have an asbestos-related disease. Contact us if your doctor is unable to help you or if you don’t have a doctor that you see on a regular basis. We recommend you see a pulmonologist (a doctor who specializes in the respiratory tract and lungs) such as Dr. Sam Morisetty, 1 Ross Park Blvd., Suite G3, Steubenville, OH 43952, phone number 740-314-5819.

The legal remedy for asbestos exposure comes from the fact that even though people who were exposed to asbestos years ago did not know of the hazards, companies that manufactured, sold or used asbestos-containing materials knew or should have known of those hazards and failed to warn or adequately inform the public.

You need to contact a lawyer as soon as possible because every state has a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations outlines a specific time period in which you can file a lawsuit and, if you do not act promptly, your window of opportunity may expire. This amount of time varies from state to state. In West Virginia, a person has 2 years from the date the injuries from asbestos exposure have become known. Even if a loved one who suffered from mesothelioma is deceased, in West Virginia the estate has two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit.

This depends to a large extent on the court in which your case is filed. The court where your case is filed depends on where you live and where you were exposed to asbestos. Generally, many clients receive some settlement monies within a year or two of filing suit.

This question is impossible to answer at this stage because it depends on many factors such as your age, your asbestos disease, your medical condition, the nature of your asbestos exposure and the products that you were exposed to. For information on your specific case, please contact us at 800-916-4400 or

No. A history of smoking does not preclude you from filing an asbestos-related lung cancer lawsuit. The medical evidence is clear that either cigarette smoking or asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer. However, the two in combination is particularly hazardous as the medical evidence is clear that smokers who are also exposed to asbestos have a much greater risk (about 50-fold increase) of developing lung cancer compared to people who have not smoked and been exposed to asbestos. As one doctor said, “a smoker who is also exposed to asbestos is like having two people shooting at you instead on one.” In short, asbestos exposure has been determined to be a substantial contributing factor in the development of lung cancer for those who previously smoked.