Florida Asbestos Lawyer
Thousands of people are newly diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma each and every year. For those that currently reside in Florida, and have an actual diagnosis, it is imperative that they consult with a Florida asbestos lawyer within four years of the date of the diagnosis. Family members of someone who has died of an asbestos disease should contact their Florida asbestos lawyer within two years of the date of death.
Asbestos-Related Diseases – An Overview
All asbestos-related diseases have an extremely long latency period after exposure; usually a minimum of ten years elapses before a disease develops. Often there is a latency of 30 years or more.
Generally, the smaller and straighter the fiber, the deeper it will become lodged in the lungs, and the more harmful it is. Because of this, Crocidolite and Amosite are thought to be more harmful than Chrysotile. Some medical professionals and studies say that the human immune system is better at eliminating Chrysolite compared to Crociodolite and Amosite.
Asbestos related diseases can be grouped into two basic categories: malignancies and non-malignancies.
Non-Malignant (Benign) Asbestos-Related Diseases
These diseases are not cancerous, but can have a significant impact on quality of life. They are incurable and largely un-treatable. While almost never fatal, patients who have been diagnosed with a non-malignant asbestos-related disease have a much higher statistical likelihood of developing a malignancy later in life. This is due to the fact that a large number of asbestos fibers are present in the lung tissue, and that the body has had a negative reaction to them already. In rare cases these diseases can progress to very severe stages requiring hospitalization, constant oxygen supply, etc. In extremely advanced stages, asbestosis can cause such a strain on breathing that it leads to respiratory failure.
A restrictive disease caused by scarring of the parenchymal tissue of the lung. It is referred to as restrictive because the scarring takes up room in the lung, therefore restricting the volume in which the lung can hold air.
Asbestosis runs contrast to a very common group of lung ailments referred to as obstructive, wherein the bronchial tubes (which are the passages that allow air to flow into and out of the lungs), become obstructed. Obstructive diseases are not caused by asbestos exposure.
Disease in the lining of the lung and chest cavity, involving scarring that can be dispersed over a large area or concentrated into plaques
Diffuse Pleural Thickening
Scarring of the visceral pleura over a large area.
Scarring and thickening of the parietal pleura in one concentrated area, forming a dense plaque.
Calcified Pleural Plaques
Pleural plaques on which calcium has been deposited, making them more stiff.
A folding over or collapsing of part of the lung caused by advanced pleural thickening.
Malignant Asbestos-Related Diseases
Malignant asbestos-related diseases, while they can be treated to some extent, are almost always fatal.
This disease has many other causes, but can be caused by asbestos exposure. There is especially high risk for people who were exposed to asbestos and also have a significant smoking history.
Cancer of the mesothelium, most often of the pleural lining of the lungs and chest cavity. An extremely rare cancer. Even more rarely, it can occur in the lining of the heart or digestive system. Prolonged asbestos exposure is the only known cause of this illness. While radiation and chemotherapy treatments are used to attempt to extend and improve quality of life, this disease is always fatal. Average survival in pleural mesothelioma is one year after diagnosis because this disease tends to spread to other body parts; sometimes patients who have the disease in other areas can live for significantly longer, but pleural mesothelioma is the most common type. Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common class of mesothelioma and results from ingesting asbestos fibers (as opposed to inhaling asbestos fibers). The peritoneum is the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity. Pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma, together, make up 90% of all mesothelioma cases. After a mesothelioma diagnosis, of any type, it is important to consult with a Florida mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible.
Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma: dry cough/wheezing and chest pain for long periods of time combined with shortness of breath. However, symptoms of pleural mesothelioma may remain hidden. The cancer often progresses to stage 3 or 4 before the symptoms cause the sufferer to seek medical attention.
Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma: abdominal pain and swelling/fluid buildup, often with nausea and constipation as well. This form of the cancer may also cause weight loss and hernias. Many doctors will misdiagnose mesothelioma of all types for COPD or pneumonia.
Various gastrointestinal cancers seem to be caused by asbestos exposure, including cancer of the esophagus, larynx, stomach, colon, and rectum. Asbestos enters the gastrointestinal system through the mouth during breathing, and the fibers are then swallowed with saliva into the digestive system rather than inhaled into the pulmonary system. The fibers enter the body’s gastrointestinal tissues similarly to the way in which they enter the pulmonary system, and eventually can cause a malignant tumor to develop. Research into the relation of asbestos to these cancers is still in early stages, and because these cancers each have many other causes it can be difficult to file an asbestos-related personal injury lawsuit with these diagnoses.
What Jobs Tend to Result in Asbestos Related Diseases such as Mesothelioma or Lung Cancer?
People who were in the United State Navy, ship yard workers, plumbers, electricians, pipe fitters, steel workers, construction workers, auto mechanics, airplane mechanics, contractors, even maintenance/janitorial workers who worked in industries that used asbestos (even if they themselves did not handle asbestos). If they are old enough, people who smoked Kent Cigarettes between 1952 and 1957 (the company put asbestos in the filter. While one cannot bring additional tobacco cases under the Florida Supreme Court Engel decision, an asbestos-related claim can still be brought against tobacco companies under a products liability theory.
In addition, spouses or family members of people who were routinely exposed to asbestos may develop asbestos-related diseases as they can get asbestos on clothing and will generally live near the asbestos-using factory or plant.
Most insulation materials manufactured before 1975 contained asbestos. Asbestos was used in the insulation for boilers, fireproofing sprays, pipes, tiles (roof, floor), brakes, and other products. Remember that these diseases have a very long latency period, so snowbirds, especially people from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania who have moved to Florida can certainly fall into the category of people seeking a Florida asbestos lawyer.
How to Test for Asbestos Related Diseases
We are looking for people who have a diagnosis of: Asbestosis, mesothelioma, or lung cancer. Vast majority of cases are going to involve mesothelioma or lung cancer, which our firm requires in order to consider addressing the case. Having the asbestos is not a diagnosis. Our personal injury firm will only consider cases if real tests have been performed to make an accurate and specific diagnosis. A biopsy will be performed or a doctor will draw fluid from the lungs. If there is a lot of fluid buildup in the lungs with drainage, there is likely mesothelioma. The lung fluid will likely be yellow or brownish, sometimes blood will be present. If the potential client is elderly, doctors wont perform an invasive biopsy but will test lung fluid only (cytology – which is kind of like a biopsy of the fluid). The test is necessary because often similar symptoms will result in a pneumonia misdiagnosis, which happens regularly.
Asbestos will generally result in plural thickening or intestinal fibrosis. But even with these elements, if you are unsure of your diagnosis you need to see more doctors. You need to ask your doctor to test for cancer.
Non-Asbestos-Related Lung Conditions
Sometimes referred to as co-morbidities, we often see these illnesses in our medical records. However, they are not related to asbestos exposure and because they can be associated with a variety of causes and difficult to prove, most Florida asbestos lawyers will not accept cases with these co-morbidities:
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Most often caused by smoking. We see this very frequently in our medical records and receive many inquiry calls from people with this ailment, but it has no association with asbestos exposure, which causes restrictive ailments.
Also an obstructive disease; also related to smoking.
The jury is out, as it were, on whether these benign pleural tumors are related to asbestos exposure.
Like asbestosis it is a form of pulmonary fibrosis. However, as indicated by the name, it has a different causative agent (i.e. exposure to silica).
A common lung ailment of unknown cause.
A common obstructive lung disease.