Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the cells around the lungs and abdomen. It gets its name from the cell membrane that fills the chest cavity, surrounding the heart, lungs, and abdomen. While mesothelioma is rare, (there are about 2,500-3,000 reported cases a year), it is still a viable threat for anyone who has worked in industrial employment, especially in shipyards. Mesothelioma develops after exposure to certain toxins, mostly asbestos; exposure was particularly prevalent for workers in the military manufacturing industry during WWII. The National Institutes of Health estimates that nearly 11 million were exposed to asbestos between 1940 and 1978. Though its most typical victims are men over the age of 60, women and children have also developed the cancer.
There are three main strains of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for over half of the reported cases; in this strain, the cancer affects the lungs in the protective lining of the chest cavity. The remaining cases are divided between peritoneal mesothelioma, or the strain which affects the abdominal cavity, and pericardial mesothelioma, which affects the cardiac cavity.
Symptoms of mesothelioma include trouble breathing, pain in/under the rib cage, pain, swelling or lumps in the abdomen, and sudden and mysterious weight loss. It can be extremely difficult to tell the difference between mesothelioma and lung cancer, and since it’s typically diagnosed when it is well advanced, it can be difficult to treat.
Though mesothelioma usually develops 10-40 years after exposure, most state’s statute of limitations enables victims to file suit within 5 years of diagnosis. However, residents of California, Tennessee and Louisiana must act more promptly, as they are only permitted to file within one year of the diagnosis. For all spouses and family members of victims who have died from mesothelioma, states usually allot 5 years to file for wrongful death.
Fortunately, for all suing for damages incurred from working in conditions that led to asbestos exposure, the courts recognize the shorter life span of victims and tend to complete lawsuits in a relatively short amount of time. It is not uncommon for those who file suit to be awarded money within a year. Compensation can come from insurance companies, or even an asbestos victim’s trust fund.
Mesothelioma cases have helped thousands of people gain financial assistance. With the right lawyer you may be able to gain the same as well.