The Asbestos Legal Center attorneys have over 20 years of combined experience aggressively yet compassionately representing individuals and families affected by asbestos. Our California asbestos lawyers invite you to use this website as a resource for all asbestos-related questions. Whether you have served in the military or have a loved one who has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, it is our goal to provide you with the resources and knowledge required to make an informed decision about your medical future.
Asbestos is a mineral with fine fibers shaped like needles that are so tiny that people usually cannot see them. If asbestos materials are ripped or otherwise damaged, these fine needle-like fibers are sent into the air and may be inhaled. The fibers can lodge in the lungs and cause serious and even fatal injuries. Often, asbestos-related diseases do not show up for 15-40 years after exposure, which can make it difficult for victims to pursue claims. There are special rules that apply to asbestos lawsuits in California. It is important to retain an attorney who understands these rules.
Mesothelioma is a serious disease, for which the primary risk factor is asbestos exposure. The disease affects the mesothelium, which is a thin tissue lining that protects many organs. There are three common kinds of mesothelioma: peritoneal mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma, and pericardial mesothelioma. Asbestos manufacturers were aware many years ago that they were producing a product that could have deadly consequences for those who had contact with it through work or in other contexts.
There are various theories under which a California asbestos attorney may be able to pursue damages arising from asbestos exposure. Many courts have held that the consumer expectations test applies to product liability claims based on design defects. Under this theory, the emission of breathable asbestos fibers that can cause a lung disease after years of latency is a product failure that falls short of the valid, generally accepted minimum safety expectations of typical consumers. Additionally, an asbestos product may be found defective even if it was flawlessly manufactured or designed if it was unreasonably dangerous to put the product in a user’s hands without an appropriate warning, and the product was supplied without a warning.
In California, many veterans were exposed to asbestos through work in naval shipyards, and many workers have been exposed to asbestos on construction sites. Some companies have filed for bankruptcy because of asbestos lawsuits, and they have created trust funds to provide compensation to people who developed mesothelioma due to their products or operations. More than $30 billion has been set aside for victims of mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure. California has rules that allow for expedited claims; the claims of terminally ill patients can go to trial in 120 days, while other types of personal injury lawsuits may take a year or two to go to trial.
Certain occupations are associated with the development of lung cancer from asbestos, including construction, shipyards, oil fields, oil refineries, steel mills, rubber plants, auto manufacturing, roofing, flooring, and tilework. When asbestos fibers are embedded in the lungs, they may irritate the lungs and trigger lung cancer. Lung cancer symptoms include nausea, shortness of breath, chest pain, weight loss, fatigue, chronic coughing, swollen lymph nodes, and loss of endurance. Often, patients do not show signs of cancer until it has progressed to later stages. If a victim of lung cancer caused by asbestos eventually dies, their loved ones can retain an asbestos attorney in California to bring a claim. They must file a claim within one year of the death or the date when they knew or should have known that the death was caused by asbestos exposure.
When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can lodge in the lungs’ air sacs and cause scarring. In contrast, with mesothelioma, the fibers have lodged in the lungs’ linings. When lungs are irreversibly scarred by asbestos fibers, asbestosis may develop. This is a chronic condition that usually needs to be treated over the rest of a patient’s life. The symptoms of asbestosis may not appear until 10-30 years after the initial exposure to asbestos. Sometimes asbestosis is misdiagnosed as bronchitis or pneumonia. As with mesothelioma and lung cancer, it may be possible to hold a product manufacturer or employer liable for asbestosis caused by asbestos in a product or on the job.
OTHER ASBESTOS DISEASES
If you were exposed to asbestos, there are other diseases that you may contract beyond mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. These can include chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, pleural thickening, pleural plaque, pleural effusion, and atelectasis, as well as ovarian and laryngeal cancers. When there is a suspicion of an asbestos-related disease, you may be asked to undergo diagnostic tests, including x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and lung function tests. You can contract asbestos diseases from shaking out and laundering a worker’s dirty work clothes or from close contact with a worker who has been exposed to asbestos fibers on the job. In California, employers have a duty to stop workers from carrying asbestos fibers home on their clothes. Even people who were not exposed to asbestos in the workplace can hire a California asbestos lawyer to sue entities responsible for exposing them to asbestos on the clothing of a household member.
If you were injured through the fault of another person or entity, you may be able to recover damages through a personal injury lawsuit. Many personal injury lawsuits are pursued under a theory of negligence. As a plaintiff, you will need to show a duty of care owed by the defendant, a breach of duty, causation, and damages. California follows the rule of comparative negligence, which means that your damages can be reduced by your percentage of fault, if any. If liability is established, you can recover compensatory damages, which are intended to compensate for economic and non-economic losses inflicted by the defendant’s actions or omissions.
In California, a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought if somebody dies due to the negligence or wrongful act of another party. It is a civil lawsuit brought by a decedent’s survivors, or by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. Although a criminal case based on the same death may have consequences for the evidence in a civil lawsuit, these two proceedings are not interdependent. A defendant may be acquitted or not charged with a homicide-related crime but still be held accountable through a civil wrongful death lawsuit. Only certain people can sue for a wrongful death, including the decedent’s surviving spouse or domestic partner and surviving children.