Many people each year file lawsuits in the United States because they develop cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos. The thousands of lawsuits largely go unnoticed amidst the other legal news, especially as asbestos litigation has been going on for a long time and there is no question that asbestos is the cause of mesothelioma as well as the cause of many cases of lung cancer.
One recent case, however, is bringing issues of asbestos exposure back to the headlines because the plaintiff is a politician. According to The Hill, the lawsuit was brought by a 69-year-old U.S. Congresswoman named Carolyn McCarthy. The congresswoman announced back in June that she had been treated for lung cancer and she has now filed a lawsuit against multiple manufacturers of asbestos because she alleges that exposure to toxic asbestos fibers when she was younger was a significant contributing factor to the development of her lung cancer.
Legal Issues Come to Light in Mesothelioma Case
Many victims who file asbestos lawsuits were exposed to asbestos through working in an environment where building products made with asbestos were commonly used. Our Boston mesothelioma lawyers know that others were exposed in the home when their family members brought asbestos fibers home from work on their clothing. The congresswoman is one of the victims who claims that she was exposed secondhand because her father and her brothers both worked in shipyards and power plants, which are high-risk fields for asbestos exposure.
Many people are unaware of the fact that there is a high risk of asbestos exposure simply as a result of living with a family member who worked in an affected industry. This is just one of many important issues that the congresswoman’s claim is bringing to light. While those who worked in high-risk fields likely know that they have an added risk of getting cancer due to their regular exposure to asbestos, individuals who had family in these industries may now become more alert to the fact that their own health is in jeopardy.
Since mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers do not develop for decades after exposure and often show few symptoms until the cancer has advanced, it is very important for those potentially at risk to know that they need to be watchful for signs of illness. This is especially true since many of the symptoms of lung cancer or mesothelioma are similar to other ailments, making diagnosis difficult unless you are aware of asbestos exposure.
The congresswoman’s case also brings up another important legal issue that many people need to be aware of: the relationship between cigarette smoking and asbestos cases. The congresswoman has smoked throughout the course of her life, and many long-time smokers who develop cancer may assume that they cannot make an asbestos claim because smoking could be the cause of their cancer.
The reality, however, is that studies show a smoker who is exposed to asbestos may be five times as likely to develop mesothelioma as someone who is not exposed to asbestos. Smoking doesn’t disqualify you automatically from recovering compensation for asbestos exposure and it is good that the congresswoman’s case makes this fact more clear to individuals who may have cancer and who may suspect that their condition comes from being exposed to asbestos fibers.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
More Blog Entries:
Sequester Hits Mesothelioma Research, Dec. 10, 2013, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog