Can I Sue for Asbestosis?

asbestosis zoomed in dictionary definition

Although mesothelioma gets most of the attention, asbestosis is another dangerous medical condition caused by exposure to asbestos. If you have been diagnosed with asbestosis or mesothelioma, you may be eligible for compensation. Here is what you need to know.

Who is at Risk of Asbestosis?

If you were alive in the 1980s or before, you likely had some contact with asbestos. But the material is the most dangerous when it is handled, allowing its fibers to become airborne. The fibers are then accidentally inhaled, becoming trapped in the lungs or surrounding tissues. Therefore, those at highest risk for asbestosis or other asbestos-related illnesses are people who worked with the material as part of their job. Industries that involved handling the material include, but are not limited to:

  • Automotive
  • Aviation
  • Boiler making
  • Carpentry
  • Chemical Processing
  • Construction
  • Electrical
  • Engineering
  • HVAC
  • Manufacturing
  • Maritime
  • Mechanical
  • Oil & Gas Refining
  • Painting
  • Plumbing & Pipefitting
  • Steel & Iron Production
  • Welding

People who served aboard Navy ships may be at particular risk. This is because the close, confined quarters of these vessels made them a fire hazard, and asbestos was the material of choice to reduce the chances of a fire at sea. But these same close, confined quarters also meant that loose asbestos fibers could permeate the entire ship. Roughly a third of all documented asbestos-related illness claims are from veterans.

What Is Asbestosis?

Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. The body cannot expel these fibers, which can eventually cause scarring of the lungs. Over time, this lung scarring can lead to a wide variety of symptoms, such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Chronic cough
  • Congestive heart disease
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fatigue
  • Fluid buildup in the lungs
  • High blood pressure
  • Hoarse or raspy voice
  • Repeated respiratory infections
  • Shortness of breath, which may become severe
  • Swelling of the fingers and/or toes
  • Unexplained weight loss

Asbestosis symptoms mirror those of many other respiratory illnesses, so diagnosing the condition typically requires a variety of tests. You may undergo CT scans, pulmonary function testing, X-rays, blood tests, and more.

Asbestosis is not curable, but careful monitoring and treatment can slow or even halt its progression. This is important not only for your quality of life, but also because the condition puts you at greater risk for developing lung cancer or mesothelioma.

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The Difference Between Asbestosis and Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare and highly aggressive cancer that is directly linked to asbestos exposure. You are at higher risk of developing it if you already have asbestosis, but mesothelioma can develop even without the disease being present. There are four different types of mesothelioma: pleural (affecting the lungs), peritoneal (affecting the stomach and intestines), pericardial (affecting the heart), and testicular (affecting the testicles).

Asbestosis is NOT a form of cancer. Instead, it is a chronic lung condition hallmarked by scarring of the lungs. There is no cure, but early detection and treatment can often slow or even halt its progression. However, developing asbestosis puts you at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma or other types of lung cancer. And untreated asbestosis can eventually lead to heart failure or other health conditions. It's very important to take asbestosis seriously and to follow a lifelong treatment and management plan to promote the best possible outcomes and quality of life.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Asbestosis?

Asbestosis and mesothelioma are complicated and potentially devastating illnesses. They are highly life-altering and can inflict both physical and emotional pain. But you do not need to face the fight alone. Your treatment team will consist of a variety of specialists. They will give you complete wraparound care that not only controls your illness but also helps minimize pain and distress while improving your quality of life.

Of course, health care is not cheap. Treating asbestosis or mesothelioma could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you have health insurance, you will only be responsible for a fraction of the costs, but this is still enough to devastate many families financially. But there is help.

An experienced asbestosis and mesothelioma lawyer can connect you with a variety of resources, from VA benefits to nonprofit organizations, to help pay for your care. In addition, we can file a civil lawsuit on your behalf that may include both actual and punitive damages. The goal is to make you whole, as well as to force manufacturers of dangerous asbestos materials to take responsibility for the damage they caused.

Asbestosis and other asbestos-related illness can take decades to appear, and the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit does not begin until your condition is diagnosed. But once you have a diagnosis, time is of the essence.

How to Get Started

The first step is to provide us with a written copy of your diagnosis, along with as much information as you can collect about your exposure to asbestos. It’s okay if you don’t have written records, as we can generally get them during the discovery phase. Just let us know where and when you think you were exposed.

At Cooney & Conway, we have the experience and compassion to guide you through available resources to pay for your asbestosis or mesothelioma treatment, and to file a lawsuit on your behalf if appropriate. Take advantage of our free case evaluation and we'll contact you with your options.